The chosen font for this month’s title, methinks, aptly portrays the appearance of some of the plants in our fynbos at present: partly caterpillar-chewed, partly dehydrated, with grey tips curled in interesting directions. Despite their appearance, however, isn’t it wonderful to know that such damage is only temporary and they will recover? For the present we can simply move on to the protea bushes, either resplendent in flowers or full of buds, with the promise of a colourful winter. The recent few days of mist covering our mountain has also ensured the continuing carpet of fascinating ericas, especially, totally different in colour and texture from those in our garden.
Our family went for a walk one early evening this past week, in a burned wetland in Kleinmond, and thrilled to the sight of magnificent red haemanthus in large patches against the blackened ground, with bright green ferns as a backdrop. It is breathtakingly beautiful, particularly with the sun sinking over the sea... and the mountains and waves tinged with soft pinks and gold. It is the kind of beauty that makes poets wax lyrical, photographers work overtime and artists drool.
Having been blessed, as a child, with a father who loved nature and shared his knowledge with his family, it is particularly wonderful to see our grandchildren sharing in this legacy, living in an area which provides scope for more than mere knowledge of the sea, plants and wild animals, but a real affinity with nature. We have fond memories of their father, just able to walk, collecting flowers and “bunny-poofs” to give to us as gifts – a fascination that grew and led to a career in conservation. His children will choose their own direction, but what a foundation on which to build!
Over the Christmas period we had the dubious privilege of the presence of young people who reside and exist in Johannesburg. The beauty of our beloved area was completely lost on them, as they were totally absorbed in their ipads and cell phones, constantly exercising their thumbs and fingers, while draping the furniture with the rest of their prone forms. Just once were they enticed out for a short walk, but their finger exercises far outweighed the appeal of the beautiful great outdoors. Their lives seem so empty to us, yet that is all they know, and as long as they have money to spend on movies, restaurants and parties in between the facebooks, tweets, blogs and skypes, etc., who cares? Incidentally, what does one call a person who spends all their time on Twitter – a twit?
While my car was being serviced a couple of days ago, we had a lot of time to kill in Hermanus, and having completed some necessary shopping, decided to pay a visit to the nursery at Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Everything looked very appealing, mostly very healthy – and very small. Humans seem to fit into two categories; those who, like my husband, optimistically see the eventual full-grown bush with perfect blooms about two to three years down the line, and those who need the little dwarf to take off and reach its potential next spring. Yours truly tends to foresee the possibility of it being ripped out by a gale-force wind, dug out by a porcupine, or picked and devoured by a hungry baboon... after all, it has happened before, right? We are presently celebrating the annual flowering of a plant I chose from the same nursery and planted in our back wall... it proudly produces one bright pink flower per annum. Perhaps it was planted by the wrong partner in this marriage...
Whatever the category (gardening-wise) we may fall under, it is comforting to know that our indigenous plants only need the tender loving care of their Master Gardener, who sends just the right amount of sunlight, moisture and nutrients for them to grow, thrive and bloom wherever they are planted. He seemed to know exactly what we needed when the plot of ground we now call home seemed miraculously made available to us about twelve years ago, when the stand we desperately wanted, but could not afford, fell victim to a devastating storm just months later and was damaged by a rockslide. It is still on the market, while our little bit of heaven withstands the full force of winter storms, summer heat and fires, and continues to be a blessing to family and visitors alike.
Isn’t it so easy to complain about what we lack, demanding that others provide our services, fix our roads, move the dunes, control the holiday visitors, and tidy the beaches after they have left, but how difficult to stop talking, enjoy long walks along the shore, watch the birds and listen to them, drink in the sunsets and enjoy the early beauty of the sunrise? ... all freely given, but priceless.