While the leaves of the Agave attenuata, also known as Swan’s Neck or Fox Tail are attractive on their own, for me the real attraction is their flowers.
The long spikes of flowers appear as each of these rosettes of sharply pointed grey-green leaves matures over a period of four to five years.
As you can see, these flower spikes grow to be about 3m tall and bend over so that from certain angles they look akin to the curve of a swan’s neck – hence that common name, although it is also known here in Afrikaans as Die Sonkyker.
Probably due to their weight, these tall spikes reflex towards the ground before arching up again – apparently like the tail of a fox, giving rise to another common name.
Each of these spikes is filled with a myriad creamy flowers. Once a rosette of leaves has produced a flower, it dies.
This plant originates from Mexico and is a popular plant for large gardens and in public gardens. This particular specimen grows next to the road leading into our town, along with various colour varieties of bougainvillea – plants suited to ‘neglect’ as they have been planted on a bank and are never watered by the municipality.
This moth is no larger than my thumb nail – such intricate and delicate patterns it has!
Who can resist the sight of a fuzzy young zebra foal staying close to its mother for protection?
This mother appears to have an unusually large rump – or a sunken back.
A Blesbuck is on the right of her. A mixed herd of normal blesbuck and white blesbuck roam on this farm a few minutes from town – this one seems to be an ‘in-betweener’. Something must be annoying the mother.
NOTE: Click on a photograph if you wish to see a larger view.
There is a persistent rumour circulating this country that President Paul Kruger had the gold belonging to the Transvaal Republic buried somewhere to avoid it falling into the hands of the British during the Anglo-Boer War. The hoard is said to be worth about eight to ten million Rand in today’s terms – small wonder people long to find it! No-one has. Areas of the Lowveld have been dug up in the hope of finding this wondrous ‘pot of gold’, but to no avail. According to the legend the gold was buried in the Blyde River area in what is now known as Mpumalanga. In fact, there is no substantial proof that this treasure ever really existed.
When the British occupied Pretoria on 5th June 1900, Lord Alfred Milner established that a large amount of gold had been removed from the Mint and the National Bank a month earlier. What happened to it? There is a detailed account of the story of the Kruger Millions at https://sabie.co.za/blog/?p=1612 which is worth reading.
In 1967 the first Kruger Rand was minted in Pretoria, a series of coins designed to promote the sale of gold. These Kruger Rands were worth 1 troy ounce of fine gold, although other weights were subsequently minted too. The obverse depicts Paul Kruger, who was the President of the old South African Republic.
South Africa’s national animal, the Springbuck, graces the reverse of the coin.
These coins are designed as collector’s items – a means for individuals to own gold.
The legend of the ‘lost’ Kruger millions is likely to persist for many years to come and the possibility of owning a Kruger Rand depends on how much spare money you happen to have, for they are not cheap. So, the Kruger Rand depicted above is clearly not a real one in my possession – it proved to be a ‘missing treasure’ of some kind though for it was discovered by my granddaughters in their father’s workshop: a gold coin chocolate!
Such a treasure! Alas, once we had prised open the gold foil covering, the chocolate inside looked far from edible – we will have to keep on looking!
Drawn by Ceridwen, aged 10.
Everything grows old with time. Everything wrinkles and decays. Some things take longer than others. Some age gently and beautifully. Some reach a point of inward decay. No matter what, there is beauty in ageing if one cares to look. This thick plank has reached a point of no return, yet as it crumbles it provides a home for beetles, lizards, ants and wasps.
This wagon wheel holds a wealth of stories beneath its metal rim that still holds fast even though the wood has shrunk and wrinkled over time.
The inner hub is flaking, flecks of paint remain on the outside, yet the spokes hold firm like muscles straining with every tendon.
Breaking point is reached and the sawed felloe sections no longer meet in places.