AN EARLY MORNING

Long before the first light shows behind the hills, the nightjars have fallen silent to make way for the morning sounds to begin. It pleases me to listen to the gradual awakening of the birds as they each add a gentle layer to the growing dawn chorus. Cape white-eyes chatter excitedly; African green pigeons chuckle quietly; while a Cape robin-chat defends its territory with low grunts.

While the sky is still a blank canvas of brightening soft grey suffused with pink, the Hadeda ibises begin fidgeting in the fig tree. The rustling sound of their feathers works its way through the branches until one ibis calls out reluctantly … a faraway reply can be heard giving the signal for the raucous calls to break the morning peace – along with the first vehicles passing by. A vivid smudge of orange intensifies above the horizon followed by fingers of light glowing low through the trees. The hadedas fan out across the valley, calling loud greetings as they go. Close by a Red-eyed dove persistently tells me it’s the ‘better get started’ time and a crow calls gruffly from a treetop. It is in the high branches and on the telephone cable where the Laughing doves meet to catch the warming rays of the rising sun.

As it rises higher, the sun highlights the yellow blossoms of the canary creeper.

Another day has begun.

APRIL 2022 GARDEN

As we will be away for a while, I thought of taking stock of our garden this morning. Here is a frog rescued from the swimming pool:

The Hairy Golden Orb-weaver spider is still standing guard over the front path. If anything, its web is even larger than before. I caught it in the midst of its breakfast:

Moving towards a shady part of the garden, my eyes lit up at the sight of a few Crocosmia blossoms:

The carpet of moss under the trees is doing well, especially after a light shower of rain yesterday:

Even though something has been attacking the zinnia plants growing in a pot, I was pleased to see this bud a day or two ago:

Which, by today, had opened to reveal the beauty within:

SEEDS

Summer is over and, in spite of the continuing high temperatures during the day as well as uncomfortably warm temperatures at night, the sun rises much later now and sets far earlier than we would like. The oppressive heat and impressive build-up of clouds late this afternoon – which included a few very loud rumbles of thunder – yielded 1mm rain. So, autumn is here: far from being a “season of fruitfulness” in terms of harvesting vegetables [thank you drought] it is nonetheless a season of seeds. Here is a selection from my garden today:

These fluffy seeds come from a weed I have still to identify. This particular one grew over six feet tall – I was so awed by its height that I left it to grow in a crack outside the kitchen door.

The beautiful flowers of the Gladiolus dalenii have left these seed pods behind.

Then there are the Cape Gooseberries that have seeded themselves around the garden. Their sun-kissed golden fruit make a welcome addition to a fruit salad. Sadly, there have been so few of them so I wasn’t able to make jam this year.

A dwarf marigold has laid down its head, ready for the autumnal sleep. Its vibrantly coloured petals will continue to fade before falling off to reveal the short black seeds at its base. I hope they will fall on fertile ground next summer.

The pretty pink blossoms of the pompon trees shrivel to look like miniature paint brushes before they finally let go and drop to the ground. Many of these trees growing in our garden have grown from seed.

The scarlet seeds from the Erythrina caffra are beginning to litter our driveway – always showing up brightly against the piles of dry leaves swirling about in the breeze.