A Flight of Flamingos

I read George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia when I was still a teenager.  The book is about his time with the communists in Barcelona fighting against Franco.  He describes a time when the communists were the most right wing group in the city as the anarchist movement took hold and there are memorable descriptions of what anarchy might actually look like in terms of politics and non-adminstration.  He moves up to fight Franco’s army in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains where he is shot through the throat.  As they evacuate him on a stretcher, dripping with blood and certain he is going die, the leaves of a silver poplar tree brush against his face.  “How lucky”, he thinks, “I am to be alive in a world where silver poplars grow.”  There were silver poplars along the lane I rode down most days as an Irish teenager and those words often came to mind.  One morning last week I was up early and driving to the stables to ride here in South Africa.  The valley was dark but the sun was just climbing over the mountain behind me and as it climbed it caught in its fiery dawn light a flock of flamingos flying in stately formation overhead, brilliantly pink, astonishing and uncommon, even here.  How lucky I am, I thought, to live in a world where I can see a flight of flamigos in the dawn.

And this morning, running with the dogs, I saw this.  Despite the dry winter and then the  torrents of rain last Friday, this brilliant coral-red Gladiolus watsonius has chosen to emerge in the winter cold.  The wind was howling today and I could not get a great shot, but it is too good not to share.  Last year we saw it in June, the same plant, and got a wonderful shot of it which I’ve included here.  The slightly shabbier ones are from today.

After a wild and windy day the sunset last night was magnificent.  Occasionally, just for a moment, the entire mountain behind us is light by the flooding last light of the sunset.  I usually miss the moment.  Last night it happened just as I pulled into the car park and I sprinted down to the dam wall just in time to capture it.

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