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Life Wonderings of a Nature Lover: July 2021 Sitamani Country Diary

August 1, 2021
Smokey days after the fire

In this July we have experienced fire and ice. Two cold fronts swept through with cold temperatures, but only 0,5mm of rain for the whole month, very dry conditions. On the 12 July looting and arson were widespread in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces of South Africa. Our property was engulfed in flames in the early evening, fortunately our home and outbuildings were saved and the resilience of nature is already being seen in new grass emerging, despite the dry conditions.

The maximum temperature 23 C on 8 July

The minimum temperature -2 C on 23 July

Rainfall 0.5mm

Sunday 4

Glowing mist rolled in during the early evening

Tuesday 6

brown leaves run like
small animals over the grass
before the chill wind

Wednesday 7

a lone golden leaf
tapping a mournful rhythm
releases to fall

In the evening this elegantly beautiful wasp settled near my bedside lamp, a parasitoid wasp, Ichneumondia, Netelia sp. (Tryphoninae)

Sunday 11

A fleeting, magical encounter with this delightful male Common Duiker, just before dawn.

Monday 12

By evening our property was engulfed in fire set by arsonists in the adjacent Mondi pine plantation. Fortunately, with the assistance of local farmers, our home and outbuildings were spared, apart from the outdoor ‘longdrop’ toilet. These are photos Philip took while we were containing the fire.

Tuesday 13

These photographs were taken during the very smokey day following the fire.

A small section on the rocky hillside escaped the flames, one bright Aloe maculata and an opportunistic Common Fiscal surveying the burnt landscape for a snack.

Wednesday 14

There is always light even in the darkest of times,
It shines with hope.
One breath at a time,
One day at a time.

Friday 16

The fire had swept through the indigenous Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea and Buddleja salvifolia shrubbery behind our house.

Monday 19

The glory of a new day unfolding

Ending with a cerise sun setting through the smoke laden atmosphere

Wednesday 21

A beautiful pair of Cape Glossy Starlings foraging in the ashes in the late afternoon

Followed by a spectacular sunset in the west

Thursday 22

bare bones of landscape
exposed by cathartic fire
waits rain revival

Friday 23

Winter Moon in Pink and Cyan, almost full, rising in the east in the evening

Saturday 24

A brilliant sun-kissed full moon setting in the early morning

Monday 26

A mother and juvenile Common Duiker foraged around the house in unburnt areas at sunrise.

Tuesday 27

The Cape Robin-Chat enjoying a few private moments in the verandah bird bath, before the gang of Cape White-Eyes invade the peace!

Wednesday 28

The glory of a winter tree in dawn robes

Tones of sepia soften the landscape

Friday 30

A walk over the hillside revealed new grass appearing, despite the dry conditions, a gradual renewal

Gossamer soft, this Spotted Eagle-Owl feather adorns a burnt grass stalk

Common Duiker droppings amongst the ash

A Fork-Tailed Drongo on the lookout for insect movement below

Bare rocks stripped of the bushy cover

Amazingly some Ouhout, Leucosidea sericea flowers have opened from buds that escaped the heat of the flames

High above the ground Buddleja salvifolia have blossomed

a bulbul preens

on bared branches displaying

his “butter-bottom”

9 Comments
  1. I have read this three times now; each time more beautiful than before. You downplay the horror of the fire by balancing it with the renewal despite the drought – letting the photographs reveal more. I love your snatches of poetry and the choice of images, such as the owl feather. Your descriptions draw me back to read them again. What treasures are contained herein!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Anne, it means a lot to me that you found something special in this blog and I’m delighted you enjoyed the owl feather! xxx

  2. Splendid. Made even more so by your morsels of poetry.

  3. bewilderbeast permalink

    Beautiful, thank you. Gotta have optimism and – especially – gotta have appreciation for what we have. My optometric practice got completely sacked in the instigated insurrection. We’ll rise again; hopefully good leadership will then see us thrive. Remember to save our anger for the billion Rand looters, not the little guy looters.

    • Thank you, yes hope is the only way forward… So sorry to hear your practice was ransacked, wishing you strength as you rise once more.

  4. Hi Christeen – the fire must have been a terrifying experience. Your relief that you with the help of neighbouring farmers managed to contain the fire and save your house and outbuildings must be immeasurable. Perhaps one can draw optimism not only from the amazing cooperation of neighbours and communities in so many places in the face of these troubles, but also from watching nature regenerate. I certainly admire your spirit and resilience. And those plucky duiker are also a tonic. Thank you Christeen for your ongoing hopefulness and sending very best wishes xxx

    • Dear Carol,
      Thank you for your warm comment. Yes, community cooperation has been amazing in so many places, perhaps the brightest aspect of these troubled times. Although we have experienced this community spirit living here over the years, and immensely grateful for it, it is sad that generally, only in times like this, there is a greater effort made in many places. I hope you are keeping well, xxx

      • Thanks Christeen, we are fine thanks.
        I also hope that the spirit of caring that sprung up in many communities and sectors in the wake of the crisis remains an ongoing and more permanent mindset for us all,
        Take care xxx

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