The past few days gave us a peaceful respite from all the strong winds on our coast. But, oh alas, the peacefulness can’t last forever. The weather forecast for the next few days gave warnings of high winds and rain coming in. So we decided to go to the rocks late this afternoon and enjoy the colours of the waves while they are still calm and blue without the sand rolling in with the surf. To sit on the rocks gives the feeling that you are so close to the might of the waves which gives you the illusion that you can climb into the rolling waves.
The blue ocean with its waves and the rocks are our quiet place. We just love sitting there on the rocks in silence, each with our thoughts. There on the rocks, we are always overfilled with thankfulness about the grace our Lord has given us to have the privilege to live here amongst the ocean, the mountains and the fynbos.
We have completed all the painting and the interior furnishings of the flatlet at the back of our house. We use it to accommodate our visitors there when they come to enjoy a few days with us and our children enjoy it because they have a separate flat with all the necessary amenities for themselves and the little ones. So today I had to clean it and did some re-arranging of the furniture. I was very pleased with the outcome of it and decided to put some flowers in there just for the beauty of it.
At the moment we have so many shrubs with purple flowers in the garden that are in bloom but then the proteas with their pinks and other fynbos shrubs with small bobble like white flowers are also in bloom. I have recently read how to prune the proteas and it was very interesting what I discovered. According to the horticulturist, proteas has a two-year cycle for each branch. You only prune the branch where there grows a flower and leave the other branches for next year when they have their flowers. So today I carefully went through the protea bushes and got quite a few flowers to pick. It was such a pleasure to work with the flowers and preparing them for the vases. I had so many that I needed three vases and one went into the flat and the other two for the house.
But while I was picking the flowers my neighbour came across the street to greet me and when talking to her I heard that she did not have any proteas in her garden. Great was my pleasure to give her some flowers as well and it was good to see the smile and happiness on her face. I just enjoy the feeling of beauty for myself and the one to whom I give the flowers. With their shapes and colours, it brings so much magic to relationships and I always seem to remember the flowers somebody has given me in the past.
I still stand in awe when I go outside in the garden during the silence of the morning. I hear all the birds singing and the sound of the crashing waves descending downwards in large white masses … And in between I listen to the silence. It’s something that fills me with gratitude every time – the privilege of being able to experience nature in its pristineness here.
This morning I quickly deadheaded the protea bushes (cutting out the dead flowers) so that the new buds can grow stronger. The light pink of the new buds looks fresh and untouched. Some are still in a closed cone and the birds such as the Cape sugarbirds and the sunbirds could not yet dig in with their long beaks to reach the nectar. Some flowers are more open than the others and the honey bees are also working hard from one flower to another – slightly disturbed by my presence between the branches. I am also excitingly waiting on the first flowers of my new Blushing Bride plant to open.
The Aloes have also started to flower and the big varieties are showing new buds. Some of the Ericas are also in bloom. I am excited to see all these new growth in the garden and to learn when all the plants have their flowering season during the year.
As it is school holidays and we have quite a number of visitors to our seaside village. People are passing by in the street and everyone enjoys the fresh air in the morning, greeting one another and one senses that they too are taking in the beauty of the mountains and the oceans and gravel roads and all the wildlife around them.
We live on the edge of the village, just below a rugged rocky hill as part of the Brodie Link Nature reserve which consists of 94 hectares. Although it is a 2km walk through the village down to the beach, living up here on the edge has given us the privilege to come across quite some wildlife during the past four months since we moved here, e.g.
Many wild birds, indigenous to this area, and then all the wonderful different species of the indigenous fynbos wildflowers.
This nature reserve links the Kogelberg Biosphere reserve with the coast and there are several hiking trails in the mountains and the nature reserves. The beauty of this coastline is the winding R44 road with spectacular views of the ocean on the one side and the rugged mountains on the other side. This gives the impression that the mountains roll into the sea.
We did another new trail (for us) in the Brodie Link reserve but just halfway up. What spectacular views! Everywhere there are new flowers and it takes time to memorise all their names. The trail winds through the valley in very sandy soil surrounded by exceptional fynbos plants but as you turn right onto the Hangklip Rock trail the stones and rocks become very loose and unstable. At places, you have to climb the rocks as if they were very high steps. It was a challenge to climb there with my camera hanging around my neck but I wanted to take detailed photos of the flowers and rocks which we came across. We always experience so much satisfaction when we discover new foot paths or hiking trails and to enjoy all the surrounding views and wildlife.
Then there is the lily (Gladiolus carmineus )with the most beautiful pink/red colour. I never see it in clusters but standing only by itself amongst the grass or amongst rocks. It passed my mind that this beautiful bulb flower never needs other plants of the same species to make a striking show. It does not need others to be beautiful. And the old saying comes to mind “bloom where you are planted”. How wonderful that nature can give us such lovely lessons. Even if you are alone in circumstances you should bloom so that others may be uplifted by your inner beauty.
It was a very special Sunday morning. It was Easter Sunday. I enjoyed my early morning bible reading in the quiet and peacefulness of the day. Early mornings are such a blessing here close to nature. I decided to walk down to the beach while it was still early and all the visitors to the village would not be on the beach that early. Somebody ran past me at some time and then it was quiet again. I was the only person on the road to enjoy the magic of those peaceful moments with intense silence around me. At the beach, I went to sit against a sand dune and saw the black oystercatchers on the rocks and the seagulls playing from one rock to the other while the waves went back and forth between the rocks. The whole time sitting there I was intensely aware of the thankfulness that filled my heart. My Redeemer lives and He went to the cross on our behalf and rose again in Glory!
It’s always good to see one’s end product when you complete a project. I bought the curtains, bed linen, the quilt and matching pillowcases for the double bed and made a throw for the single bed for the little ones. I wanted to have a light green fynbos theme with a peaceful pastel coloured warm atmosphere. While I was busy inside the flat, my husband finished off the painting of the roofs outside and also the deck’s woodwork. At that time we felt we have done enough renovation projects for the time being and we wanted to go on more outdoor walking and enjoy the surroundings.
We took photos of all the new fynbos flowers amongst the protea bushes along the trails and the gravel roads in the village. It is a very special time of the year to see all the new flowers when different wild fynbos bulbs germinate and stand in bloom with the most beautiful flowers.
Some evenings I go up to our deck and have some spectacular views of the golden hour sunset in the bay. When the sun has gone down I also like to sit amongst the proteas and ericas in the garden and take low light photos of them. It gives me another perspective of the depth of the colour of the flowers and to have them against the dark background of the low light that sets in very quickly. In the mornings early I wait for the Cape Malachites to visit the proteas to collect the nectar of the flowers with their long beaks and try to capture their bright green feathers on their backs and wings with the camera. I feel so privileged to be among these beautiful creatures that God has made and to enjoy their beauty.
During February we started with some of the house projects. The lounge/dining room/kitchen area was the first to paint and it was quite a challenge to paint the highest places of the ceiling. It took us a week to paint 3 layers of light grey paint over a very dark depressing green colour. We felt so pleased with the results. It made everything brighter, more open and larger. It is interesting the effect a dark colour has on your emotions. We experienced so much satisfaction to know that we could do it on our own. Then followed the flatlet with its ceiling and interior walls and the result was a fresh, new and welcoming room/living area for everyone to come and stay here. The exterior roof of the outbuildings followed as it suffers a great deal of harsh coastal conditions like extreme sunshine, winds and rain.
In between all the painting and me having other family responsibilities, we had our first walk on the beach after the lockdown restrictions were lifted. Then some lovely walks in the nature reserve and a walk on the mountainside of our village. The trail up the rocky hill in the nature reserve behind our house was a mind-blowing experience. While climbing up we could only see the different species of plants with their flowers and the footpath in front of us at first. Slowly the edge of the hill appeared more and more and then, to our surprise, we had everything in full view. As we stood there with a 360-degree view of the ocean, the mountains, and the other villages along the coast to the east, we felt like small minute stones amongst an amphitheatre of mountain cliffs and views of the ocean all around us. It was spectacular!
During the month I also bought a few plants and planted a pink King protea in the driveway at the entrance gate and a Serruria Blushing bride close to the front door. It gives me so much pleasure watching them grow in its sandy acid soil. It is the fynbos plants’ natural habitat here so I don’t need to use compost or fertilizer as with the other plants. In South Africa, the flowers of the Serruria blushing bride are very popular for the brides’ bouquets because their petals are very delicate and with a soft white/pink colour. The King Protea is also a popular choice for the brides for their bouquets encircled with other fynbos greenery. The Pink Ice proteas in our garden also opened this month and what a beauty. I put some in vases and I enjoyed making my protea bouquet from proteas and fynbos greenery from our garden. This is the first time in my life! And what a joy!
We had some visits of our wild birds in the garden too. The guinea fowl family comes to visit us every late afternoon at the same time and have their drop of water from our birdbath. The Cape Sugarbirds and Cape Malachites enjoy the nectar of the proteas. We also have a family of Cape Francolins (Cape Spurfowl) that nest themselves on the grass below the trees in the garden. And then there is the Cape Wagtail that frequently visits the garden. And don’t forget our dear old tortoise! I still have to identify all the other wild birds that visit the birdbath in front of our dining room window.
We had a quiet New Year and the lockdown restrictions were still in place. My brother enjoyed visiting us for a week during Christmas and when he arrived back at his home where he lives as a cerebral palsied adult, he had to go into isolation in his room for 8 days as precautionary measures. He was extremely excited to visit us and see the new house and enjoy his room and the garden. Due to one leg that is 10cm shorter than the other, he must always be careful not to lose his balance and is therefore always cautious of the surfaces where he walks. He walks with a stick outside to “inspect” (as he says it) the plants and everything outside.
On the 2nd day of January, I finally completed the unpacking and organising of the cupboards while hubby did the urgent maintenance things that were needed in and outside the house. We decided to do more exploring of our environment and relaxed a bit. There are so much to explore and trails to walk and wildflowers to identify. I also needed to help with other family responsibilities and had to be away for a week.
During the month we saw protea flower buds starting to develop. It was a wonderful excitement to see the protea bushes in our garden also full of buds.
The lockdown restriction for walking on the beaches was lifted as well. We could once again enjoy the amazing feeling of standing in the water, playing with our toes in the sand, watching the surf of the waves and walk amongst the rocks. And all this always under the watchful “eyes” of the mountains in the background. We like to walk on the upper road of the village having a view of the village below and the ocean in the distance. From there we walk up the hill going through the neck of two rocky hills and down on the other side into the nature reserve where all the hardy fynbos plants grow. While exploring all the footpaths we also see the new growths in the plants and learning about their seasons of flowering too.
As I stand on the rugged rocky hill with a view onto our house below I ponder about the past four months where our circumstances as a retired couple changed dramatically within the lockdown period of the worldwide Covid-19 crisis. We would never have thought that we would have a house here amongst the fynbos vegetation with the hills and mountains on the one side of our coastal village and the ocean as a blue deck in front of us.
Living and working in Scotland for a few years and coming back to our home country to take care of my aged father and my adult handicapped brother was already a huge change within itself. My dad passed away six months after we came back and my brother who lives in a special home for cerebral palsied adults comes to visit us every 3-4 weekends.
Because we love the countryside with its plants, animals and the sea and need to be close enough to the city where my brother and our children live, we managed to buy a little cottage in a coastal village in a conservancy area where the fynbos vegetation are still fully protected in this world heritage site.
The first month after moving here was hectic but we were so relieved that the registration of the purchase of the cottage was finalised at the Deed’s Office before the next lockdown restrictions were announced. Our Deed’s Office has been open and closed all the time due to employers who contracted the Coronavirus and because of that they had such a backlog in their work.
It was unpacking and finding the right place for each item and trying to get everything ready in the bedrooms so that it was ready for my brother and the children’s Christmas visit. It is a two bedroomed cottage and a bachelor flatlet and a lovely roofed barbeque area at the back of the house. All the walls and roofs needed a fresh coat of paint as there were many years of negligence. Other renovation projects were waiting on us too and we had to prioritise which needed first attention. We contacted a contractor to give us a quote on all the main work but after receiving the quotation we decided to do as many projects ourselves as we had all the time.
When we stood on the beach for the first time we could only stare at the white surf of the blue waves and the rocks with the huge mountains in the distance overlooking the village while we were in utmost awe. Our hearts were thankful that the Lord made it possible for us to come and stay here for the last phase of our lives in its peaceful surroundings with all the fynbos vegetation, mountains, wild animals, hiking trails, wild birds and a lovely little garden that is a pleasure to maintain. I always loved proteas and other fynbos plants but never had them as plants in our garden. Now they are here in their habitat and they grow wild everywhere, BUT I also have them in the garden and I can make up my bouquets of fynbos flowers from my own garden! Wow! My heart is full of joy! Well, due to all the lockdown restrictions during December we were not allowed to go for walks on the beach. We mostly stayed at home unpacking or went on walks in the village with our gravel roads and that made us acquainted with all the streets and special places. Although it was midsummer it was also a lovely time to work in the garden and tidy up all the overgrowth and change some flower beds. The wonder of it all is that while working in the garden I am continuously aware of the beauty of the surrounding mountains standing like watchmen over the village and that makes me feel so blessed.