ANOTHER ARRAY OF PATTERNS

It strikes me that if you look at anything close enough and for long enough, a pattern will emerge. Take this cauliflower for example:

I seldom get an opportunity to walk along the beach and when I do, apart from the waves, shells and seabirds, I am mesmerised by the patterns made by ripples in the shallow water:

I admire images of centuries old stone bridges as well as more modern concrete and steel bridges from abroad. Sometimes in this part of the world we have to make do with something more humble, like this flat wooden bridge:

For several years we had an angulate tortoise living in our garden – until he decided the time was right to seek a mate and he wandered off:

I also enjoy patterns seen in weathered rocks:

Lastly, this one may take you by surprise:

It was sent to me by a family member several years ago.

OLD PHOTOGRAPHS

Look what happens when you look at old photographs … you get transported right back to your childhood and a host of memories come rushing in, blowing away the cobwebs of time … not that I date back to 1924 or thereabouts! This McCormick-Deering tractor was my eldest brother’s pride and joy for he lovingly restored it, and garaged it alongside the more modern ones my Dad used for the farm.

That is him driving it with me standing between my other brothers on our farm in the Lowveld. These tractors were manufactured by the International Harvester Company.

Several things strike me when I look at this photograph: the water tank on the high tank stand in the background was probably still fairly new then. It was filled from a borehole and provided the water we needed for the farm house. It was a real challenge to climb to the top of this tank, which had a marker to show when the water level was reaching the point when it would have to be filled again. A bulk fuel tank is in the background. A sharp eye will help you pick out the Pegasus logo of the Mobil Company stencilled on it.

The productive vegetable garden in in the background.  Here my Mother is watering the cabbage patch.

Behind her are beans – we always had a variety of fresh vegetables from that garden: tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, leeks, turnips as well as pumpkins and spinach. I loved being sent to pull carrots from the garden for a meal and rinsing them under the tap of the rainwater tank outside the kitchen. I remember the crisp snap of fresh green beans – and still prefer eating them raw so that the juice ‘explodes’ in my mouth as I bite into one. I prefer raw tomatoes for the same reason: imagine finding a shady place to sit in the Lowveld heat with several freshly picked tomatoes and a salt cellar … sheer bliss!

This must be a later photograph for here you can see two bulk fuel tanks for the farm vehicles and just glimpse one section of our farmhouse.

Looking at these pictures reminds me of the heat, the ants that scurried about on the gravel as well as the smell of diesel. It brings home to me how comforting it was to be part of such a wonderful family and how blessed we children were to have the freedom to climb trees, roam the veld and to just ‘be’.

HEADING OUT

HEADING OUT

I find it good for my soul to get right away from our home town now and then. The recent need to be in Cape Town provided a good opportunity for this. Ideally we would have liked to stop more often and to savour more of the countryside than we had time for, yet we saw all sorts of interesting things along the way.

There is something special about being on the road as the sun rises, casting long shadows across the veld and seeing the patches of thick mist rising from the low-lying areas as the day warms up. The long journey was enlivened by glimpses of impala grazing in open spaces in the bush highlighted by the sun. We also saw kudu, wildebeest, blesbuck, and zebra early on.

I was struck by the number of Cape Crows sitting on their untidy nests built on the telephone poles that march along sections of the road in the Western Cape as well as an abundance of Jackal Buzzards and Black Harriers. It was a thrill seeing a pair of Blue Cranes on our way down and then several more on our return journey. These are the national bird of South Africa.

blue crane

An increase in the number – and size – of wind farms is noticeable. I wonder how effective they will be in terms of alleviating the current shortage of electricity in the country.

The Cape Town weather was kind to us: warm, clear and dry throughout our four-day stay. Time spent in the small suburban garden revealed Hadeda ibises (not at all concerned about being stalked by a calico cat), Redwinged starlings, Olive thrushes, Laughing doves, Redeyed doves, a Cape robin, Rock pigeons, Cape crows and an abundance of Cape White-eyes.

hadeda

parsley

The latter flitted in and out of the trees throughout each day. On one particularly hot and dry afternoon, they delighted in the spray from the sprinkler turned on to water the lawn. It was a joy watching the white-eyes fly through the jets of water and perch on the branches of a fig tree while having a communal shower!

showering

The return journey was equally interesting. A highlight was seeing a sizeable flock of White Storks. Nearer home we spotted eland, springbuck and, lastly, a group of giraffe so close to the road that C asked me to stop so that she could “see how giraffe eat”.

How satisfying it is to walk round the side of the house to the front door on our arrival at the end of a long journey and to see that the pompon trees have burst into bloom during our absence!

pompon

The other joy is that the Lesserstriped swallows have completed their replacement nest.

complete nest

A full day later came the satisfaction of making a salad using lettuce, spinach, carrots and green peppers from our own garden. It is a relief that the purple basil seeds that germinated a few days before our departure are still looking sturdy. A garden bonus (I hope we will see the fruits of this) are gemsquashes spreading out their tendrils from the compost heap.

It is wonderful living in our nook of the Eastern Cape!