A song of Africa

I left the house this morning and ran into sparkling air.  The last few days have been hot and humid, then overnight a cold front swept through, no rain but damp cool air that wiped away the humid heat like thick dust off a table, leaving the day glossy, clean, gleaming in the morning light.

The northern boundary of the farm overlooks olive groves that belong to Buffet Olives and as it is the harvest there are teams of migratory workers, picking olives.  As I ran along the northern road the sound of singing floated upwards, filling the air with joy, with the traditional echoes of African labour, with the soul of the continent; not something we often hear in the Cape, the deep, moving voice of Africa.  I felt very blessed as I ran upwards, away from the echoing song.

A year ago we were bemoaning the lack of rain, indeed by the end of April we had yet to see a drop.  This year we’ve already had the first 40mm and the mountain is flourishing with life.  The Protea repens always flowers early of course and this blog is devoted to what used to be South Africa’s national flower.  With the rain and the proteas come the birds, sunbirds and sugarbirds that flit among the fynbos, sipping from the rich sweetness held in each white cup and beginning their hunt for mates and the winter breeding season.  I see them, but because I have not the patience to try and photograph them, they are one of the subtle hidden delights of our farm life.

Growing up in Ireland I was never a fan of the autumn.  The promise of short cold days held few delights for me.  Here it is different, autumn is like spring, it brings a renewed flourishing, filling dams with water and the mountain with flowers.  It draws away the summer heat and gives us the promise of rain and fine cool sunny days.  As we ran through the guava orchard, poorly tended though it is, the unique fuggy sweet scent of ripening guavas filled the air we breathed.  In a few weeks we’ll enjoy stewed guavas for breakfast, another autumn delight.

Proteas repens comes mostly in glossy greeny white.  Sometimes the edges are tipped with pink, and sometimes the outside of the petals is entirely pink, a rich colour set off by the bright green leaves.  It borders the roads on the farms and dots the lands that we leave wild to the fynbos.  It is the harbinger of autumn delights.

This perfect day ended in a gorgeous sunset, the pink and orange light setting west-northwest and the colours reflecting in the dam.

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