WINTER SUNSET

It was while driving home along the Port Alfred Road towards Grahamstown last week that I photographed the sunset.

17:14

17:22

17:26

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ASCENSION DAY

Today is Ascension Day, one of the earliest Christian festivals, dating back to the year 68. It marks the end of the Easter season and is celebrated on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter Sunday because, according to Christian beliefs, Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples after he rose from death before he ascended to heaven.

There was a time when Ascension Day was a public holiday in South Africa, but this fell away when the number of public holidays were rationalised to twelve – although the Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994) determines that whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following on it shall be a public holiday!

The windows shown above are in the chapel of the Diocesan School for Girls in Grahamstown.

With it no longer being a public holiday, everyone has to go to work as usual in this country. I was interested to read, though, that according to Welsh superstition, it is unlucky to do any work on Ascension Day!

MIST CATCHER

Many years ago, more than I care to count, one of the young girls I taught gave me a dream catcher that she had made for me. It was a parting gift to protect me from bad dreams – and it would surprise her if she knew I still had it!

I was reminded of this earlier in the week when we woke to a thick mist – in typical fashion, this meant a scorching day ahead – that left tiny droplets of water on leaves for that short while before everything was sucked up by the sun. I saw this mist catcher … capturing the fine moisture in the mist just as dream catchers capture the ethereal dreams.

THE EMPERORS ARE BACK

The large (up to 8cm long), rather fierce looking Emperor Moth caterpillars (Bunaea alcinoe) are back in our garden after an apparent absence of three years. I first encountered them in 2014, when several of them chomped their way through leaves of a Cussonia spicata (widely known as the Cabbage Tree/ Kiepersol). What happened to them after they had defoliated the tree is anyone’s guess for they simply disappeared after a day or two.

These caterpillars must have been feeding off other trees in our garden such as the Harpephyllum caffrum (Wild Plum), Celtis spp (White Stinkwood), and the Ekebergia capensis (Cape Ash), for my Cussonia remains untouched so far.

SONY DSC

The picture above shows what is left of a cluster of leaves in the Cape Ash tree after the caterpillars had feasted on them. There are many of them crawling across the grass and in the compost area – I counted about twenty of them in various parts of the garden yesterday. I can only imagine that they are looking for suitable place where they can bury themselves in the ground, where they will transform into a pupa awaiting the completion of metamorphosis before emerging as a moth. Having seen several of them on the lawn, I wonder if they bury themselves under the grass too. This one is in the compost area.

The caterpillars must surely be food source for birds, although I have not seen any of them having been eaten. Three dead ones found on the lawn this morning show no signs of having been pecked at.