We’ve been in the bush a couple of times recently. That’s what South Africans say when the rest of the world might say “on safari”. Most recently at Mashatu Game Reserve on the border of the Limpopo river in Botswana. We love the bush, especially being there with family and good friends. Relaxing, great food, great wine, great fun and spectacular game.
But it’s noisy in the bush. At night the noise never stops – you lie awake surrounded by the croaking frogs, the rustling, the grunt of the invisible leopard strolling through camp, the far off roar of a lion and the whoop of a distant hyena. Closer to home, just outside the window the tiny pearl spotted owl spouts forth all night, his whistling call climbing a lengthy scale, the volume all out of proportion with his tiny frame. With the dawn comes the chacaphony of the chorus but luckily we are up by then, heading out into the cold bitter morning to see what’s out there.
On the way home I stayed in Johannesburg for a night. Although I stayed with Yvonne who lives in a leafy suburb, the city is never silent for a moment. My ears are bashed by rumbles and thumps and engines and shouts, by barking dogs and rustles and squeaks that may or may not signify danger. And because Johannesburg is a city in a forest, the dawn chorus is every bit as loud as in the bush, only now I’d like to sleep.
Home on the farm last night I went high into the mountain with the dogs. A little rain has fallen in recent weeks and it feels like the whole farm, indeed the whole mountain, is a patient who has been through terrible trauma and slowly beginning to heal. The green is emerging in patches, and treasures are coming out of the blackened earth. I almost feel bad for going away as I suspect there are flowering bulbs that have come and gone and I’ve missed them. Never mind. Here is silence. On a still, warm evening the mountain has taken on the magnificent silent presence of a cathedral. The dogs and I stop, catching familiar scents, surrounded by silently growing plants, holding the quiet, the peace, the magnificence of the entire Cape laid out before us in glittering evening light. Such beauty. Such silence.
Fynbos needs fire and rewards us with flowers. Coming up the drive little flashes of pink caught my eye high on the bank. The dogs and I went to explore and found masses of tiny pink nerines, something I’ve never seen on the farm before.
A few weeks ago Peter was down by the river, clearing all the dead Port Jacksons (invasive trees that got completely destroyed by the fire). He found these incredible red flowers, emerging from nowhere. They are paintbrush lilies, Haemanthus pubescens.
There are always thousands of Oxalis studding the farm at this time of year and even in the badly burned places some have emerged, nothing like as prolific as other years, but all the same, there they are.
Then there are these fabulous aloes that have probably been there all along but were hidden by massed proteas. The proteas are gone and somehow these survived and I can see them from the road at the top of the farm. I think they are Aloe plicatilus. They would normally flower later in the year but between the fire and the unseasonably hot weather they may have decided to flower early.
Aloe plicatilis (?)