For several weeks now I’ve been wondering why I haven’t written a blog. After all I’ve been running on the mountain, in fact my fitness is pretty good. The dogs and I have had several splendid morning and evening runs. The weather is fabulous for us – this has been the coolest summer we’ve spent on the farm and dogs and humans have relished it. We love the sun, but extremes, often as high as 40 degrees, can be harsh. I did go to Europe for work a couple of weeks ago – to a freezing cold and rather depressing Paris, a city I dearly love but which was in mourning not only for Charlie Hebdo but for the loss of freedom that accompanies terrorism. The weather was as bleak as the mood although a cancelled meeting meant some rewarding shopping and one or two excellent dinners helped cheer me up.
So why no blog? The question resolved itself yesterday when I was running on the top road. At this time of year the flowers die back – the middle of summer here is like the winter elsewhere, with little new growth. The point of this blog is to share the amazing beauty and variety of flowers that grow here on the farm. And the flowers hide from the heat and the harsh sunlight.
Then yesterday I saw a splendid flash of pink at my feet. An Erica had burst into flower. Of course there are 660 fynbos subspecies of Erica, so they are not always easy to identify, and lots of them have pretty pink bells like this one. Given the season and the dark pink flowers this could be Erica pulchella. Tiny and absolutely lovely.
The other flower that is in full bloom is this yellow pea called Aspalathus divaricata Subs divaricata (Franschhoek form). A long name to describe a pretty rambling Cape Gorse that flowers in the driest period of the year.
Although there are few flowers, there is plenty of life stirring and getting going. The Leucadendron salignum which lights up the mountain on dark winter days with it’s lime green colour is putting out new reddish pink growth at the moment. And the Protea repens, the most common Protea on the farm, are covered in sticky buds, just about to flower – indeed the very first flowers have just emerged. Could it be a sign of early rains to come? They always flower before the first rains. We had a cloudy morning the other day – it’s rare and pleasant at this time of year, and the new growth coloured the mountain.
Then there are the shining grasses. As we drive down the road in the evening the light floods the new vines planted just below our neighbours house and the grasses literally dazzle the eye in pink and white. I sent this photo to our neighbour and she commented that “they shouldn’t be there” so I daresay that next year the grass will be cleared and this extraordinary display of light will disapear. For the next few months these shining grasses line the roads and catch the light in a display of pink and white luminosity; I absolutely love them.
Other excitement included the dogs putting up a tiny duiker who shot up the mountain and then ducked behind a buchu plant. The girls were giving chase and didn’t even glance at its hiding place and I pretended to see nothing and continued up the mountain. Not long afterwards the girls were still gamboling in the lands and a glossy chestnut coloured rhebok jumped out in front of us. Seamus was just ahead of me, but supervising the girls and although she was only a couple of feet from him, she looked at us in astonishment and leapt for cover so quickly that he didn’t even see her. Or pretended not to. So much for being a sighthound.
The sunsets are often incredible. On that cloudy day the dying rays caught the cloud above the dam and turned it perfectly pink, which was then reflected in the water, a perfect end to another wonderful day at home in Africa.