Category Archives: Cape Town

Perpetual Summer

Summer? 1

As I write this, temperatures are soaring to 36C. This is autumn in the Western Cape! Seriously?

We have Berg winds again. To understand what this means, open your oven door when you’re cooking pizza and let the hot air waft over you. This kind of heat is blowing in through my open windows and doors right now. There is nowhere cool to go. Even sitting under the trees provides no respite today.

Summer? 2

I am tired of wearing T-Shirts and shorts and sweltering all day!

I am tired of the soft bread in my sandwich toasting itself in the air while I eat it, so the last bite is decidedly drier and crunchier than the first!

I am tired of a perpetual summer that began last September/October, over 7 months ago!

Autumn!

How do I know it is not summer any longer, but autumn? My calendar tells me so, as does my neighbour’s deciduous tree.

Summer may be officially over, but so many plants are just starting their new growth. Look at my camellia bush; bursting to overflowing with buds:

Summer? 3

And my newly planted little honeysuckle, that is flourishing:

Summer? 4

The impatiens in my hanging baskets, that keeps on producing flowers all year round.

Summer? 5

Perpetual summer? I think so!

Oh well, time for ice-wine by the pool!

Ice Wine

Cheers!

 

 

It’s Raining – Rain!

Rain 1

Hallelujah!

We have rain.

rain

Rain

RAIN

RAAAAAIIIIIINNNNN!

Rain 2

Look at the lovely white skies! Many of you commented on the clear blue skies of my last post, Fleeting Visitor, but as you know, we’d trade it all for some rain. Good heavy rain storms with Thunder and Lightning.

Rain 3

Little Monkey wasn’t too impressed that I still took her to dog class! But really, it was so refreshing to stand under the trees watching the lightning strike the clouds and to experience that wonderful, cleansing rain.

I hope some of this rain falls in the catchment areas to replenish the dams a little bit. It will be just in the nick of time too, as our dam levels are down to 23%; the last 10% of which is difficult to use, so really we only have 13% left.

So, yes, I know you don’t particularly like being out in the rain, LM, but me, I love it!

 

All Roads Lead To . . .

Vineyard

. . . Elephant’s Eye Cave!

The grapes have been harvested for the next vintage of wine and these rows stand empty in the vineyard, as the leaves slowly turn to orange.

I thought those if you in the Northern hemisphere awaiting your Spring, might like to see a typical Autumn’s day here in Cape Town.

The mountain in the background looks like an elephant lying down, with its head on the left. The cave is in the position its eye would be; hence the name Elephant’s Eye cave.

 

Dust Devil

Vineyard 1

Vineyard 1

Sitting in the shade of a massive tree with my friend, overlooking the rose garden and vineyards, I noticed dust clouds billowing in the distance.

 

Vineyard 2

Vineyard 2

At first all I could see was the dust cloud, but then I became aware of a tiny object moving in front of the dust; it was a tractor.

Nothing epitomises the lack of rain more than watching this tiny machine drive up and down the narrow pathways between rows of grape vines, engulfed in dust clouds.

Vineyard 3

Vineyard 3

It was not spraying crops. The clouds are red dust.

The wind easily picks up the red dust that used to be earth, swirls it around in a Dust Devil and spreads it to the four corners of the universe, never to be seen here again.

We need rain.

How else is this crop of grapes going to survive well enough to become tomorrow’s wine?

 

Fragrant Frangipani

Franjipani 1

Franjipani 1

Many plants are shrivelling up and dying in the heat and drought here in Cape Town at the moment, but my frangipani continues to bloom beautifully, regardless.

Franjipani 2

Franjipani 2

Every year in January this massive bush unfurls new pink flowers, wafting an exotic scent on the evening breeze.

 

You can read more about my frangipani here.

 

Mystery Visitor

Cape Canary 1

Cape Canary 1

I spotted this bird on my garden face recently. I grabbed my camera and managed one shot before it flew off. As usual, I was inside the house in the lounge and shooting through the window.

The camera had hardly switched on before I was forcing it to function and the bird flew away, so the photo before tweaking* was really blurred; see below.

Cape Canary 2

Cape Canary 2

I could tell by looking at it that it wasn’t one of my usual visitors and I thought perhaps it was a Cape Weaver, which I have seen very occasionally in the past, but something about it just wasn’t quite right. This bird is smaller and has those grey markings.

After searching through my Newman’s SA Bird book and google, I think I have finally identified it.

A Cape Canary!

You can watch a short clip of the Cape Canary, Serinus canicollis singing, here.

I love to see all these new birds in my garden, but wish they’d stay around a bit more so I could get a decent photo!

 

post script: I don’t put a bird feeder out in my garden, because I don’t want to actively encourage birds to visit here when I have Little Monkey, who will always chase them away and catch them if she can. However, I do have a bird bath, because water is scarce, but they can access this from the trees, so are relatively safe. I’ve never seen LM try to catch birds in the bird bath; maybe etiquette at the water hole?

*post post script: If you’re interested, I improved the image by sharpening the contrast and adjusting the saturation and colour levels, on PowerPaint 2.50. I was pretty chuffed with the results, as my original photo was very blurred and according to google, sharpening an image is really difficult. The funniest account I read on how best to sharpen a blurred photo simply said to take another photo of your subject, but in focus this time! 

 

Crunchy!

LM 29 Nov

Lawn 3 and LM – 29 Nov

Those of you in the Northern hemisphere who experience frosty weather will be used to the ground being crunchy underfoot.

You might be surprised to learn that those of us here in Cape Town, in the Southern hemisphere, also find the ground crunching under our feet.

But this has nothing to do with frost or frozen ground.

Nope.

We have severe water restrictions, because it just didn’t rain enough last winter (our rainfall season) and the dams are extremely low. This water has to last the whole summer season stretching out in front of us for the next six months before any rain can confidently be expected to fall again, in our rainy season in July; next winter for us.

The following series of four photos show the rapid dehydration of the grass on my lawn over eleven weeks.

Lawn - 7 Oct

Lawn 1 – 7 Oct

We are at level 3 water restrictions. This means no hose pipes and no watering the lawn. You can water plants with a watering can on three days of the week either very early or late in the day for an hour.

Lawn 2 and LM - 15 Oct

Lawn 2 and LM – 15 Oct

It is survival of the fittest for the plants out there.

Fortunately, most of my garden has indigenous plants that have survived many years with little water. It is just my rose bushes that I water a little once a week; and the new Erica bush my husband bought me when my old boy Mr Spaghetti Legs died. This little bush, although indigenous, has not had time yet to establish its roots, so I watch it like a hawk and water it a few times a week to ensure the roots do not dry out. It doesn’t need much water, but it does need some!

Lawn 3 and LM - 29 Nov

Lawn 3 and LM – 29 Nov

Still, this leaves my poor lawn shrivelling up and dying in the endless heat. This is very sad, because we had been nurturing the small patches of good grass; (see Rejuvenation. ) and they are definitely larger than last year. If I had water I would regularly water round the edges of these patches to promote their growth. Sadly I’ll have to watch as even these patches now die off.

Lawn 4 and LM - 23 Dec

Lawn 4 and LM – 23 Dec

On our walks now, Little Monkey and I crunch our way round everyone else’s grass verges that are already more brown than green.

Climate change?

Absolutely.