Thursday, September 22, 2005

Spring is here in South Africa

So after the BIRD HORROR. Is there any good news?

Well, there are some smallish birds too. Pretty little finches, in brilliant yellows and reds, twittering away amongst the bird-of-paradise plants, the banana trees, and the ... pansies? Yes, pansies they are, because it’s springtime here! September means springtime in South Africa.

When we got here, two weeks ago now, everything was still very brown. It was coolish (that would be 26-27C midday ... are you sure you still want to be in England???) and windy, and the trees were bare. I drove on the wide roads, and saw people everywhere along the roadways, walking, walking through small whirlwinds of leaves and red dust. Skirts flapping, hands covering eyes and holding down hats, and dust and dust devils everywhere.

But now, just in the last few days, it’s starting to green up. In fact, the trees are just beginning to flower. Again, two weeks ago, the only blossoming trees were these massive things with giant dark purple pompoms on them (sort of like lilac blooms, but in the tops of big bushy trees.) Then yesterday when I was outside with Vladi, I looked around, and against the bluest sky ever stood a tree with the sheerest haze of violet flowers across its canopy. Looking through that purple haze, to the periwinkle blue sky beyond, was simply heavenly. I’ve never seen anything like it.

So these are the famous jacaranda trees! They’re a lot like plane trees in Europe, or America’s beautiful old long-gone elms. They were planted to line generous avenues and provide lovely dappled shade from high above. But those gorgeous blossoms are simply beautiful. And even as the tree is covered with violet flowers above, the ground below is a purple carpet of fallen blooms.....

Then there are roses on trellises, and mimosa trees (the ones with the bright red feather-duster flowers), and another simply amazing bush called “yesterday, today, and tomorrow”. I saw that one in the garden of one of the houses we looked at... and it appears to have three different colors of blossoms on it, all at the same time... purple, blueish violet, and white!

And so fragrant. The flower smells here are just phenomenal. You wouldn’t believe! But for now, until you come visit me, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it!

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