Late summer on the mountain balances that edge of raw harsh climate and scarcity of water, with the joyous beauty of light on rock, jewels flowering in the brilliant sunsets, golden skies reflecting in still water and howling winds, cooling, destroying what they touch yet bearing promise of rain to come.
After a hot December and a scorching January when we thought we could bear it no more, the weather softened and the late summer has been quite mild, much milder than last year. We’ve even had days of cloud, drizzle and a proper deluge or two. Not enough to replenish our waterways, but perhaps enough to stop them from drying up altogether. More rain lies on the short term horizon and we have the confidence to hope that the drought may come to an end in the coming months. Not soon enough to save the winter crops, but maybe for next spring and summer.
As always there are flowers that thrive despite the season. And as I write the first proteas are blooming and will feature on the next blog. Meanwhile the Protea nitida is putting forth its new growth, a glorious scarlet against a cloudy morning.
Flowers that survive the heat include the gorgeous Erica abietina with its fabulous coral trumpets and the yellow heads of Aspalanthus abietina which so resembles the gorse on the Wicklow mountains that I wait hopelessly for the heady whiff of almonds that wafts through the Irish countryside in May and am always disappointed when it doesn’t come.
There’s one gorgeous little pink thing that comes out in late December and hangs around for the rest of the summer. I’ve never posted it because I’ve never really done the work of identifying it properly. Now that I’ve had a look I think it must be an Erepsia, not sure of the subspecies, which is a member of the iceplant family, Aizoaceae. It flowers at the right time of year and has all the right qualities and I can’t see that it could really be anything else. A process of elimination which leads to a tentative deduction; would be delighted to be confirmed or corrected by the botanists who read this blog.
I have a particular love for the cones of Leucadendron tincta. In fact I like everything about this particular Leucadendron, which proliferates on the farm. You can see why.
The dogs have been loyal running companions despite the summer heat. Seamus doesn’t join us any more and the other night I took the girls for an evening run, leaving him alone in the house. As we came home the night was filled with such mournful howling that you would think he was the saddest, loneliest wolfhound who ever lived. I felt horribly guilty; he was triumphant when covered with love and treats on our return. On happier evenings (for Seamus) we go for a family stroll and he can come too. Here they are at the little pan which is reduced to a puddle now. They romped and played and we all came home covered in mud.
Our runs have been glorious. I’ve changed the pattern a bit and sometimes I go out in the evenings; we can’t go to the north side of the farm then, because for some reason that’s where most of the wildlife lives. Most of the small predators are active at sunset and the dogs nearly always pick up something to hunt. So we stay to the south, lingering high for as long as we can to catch the glory of the evening light. Here are some of the best moments….