See my weaver-bird's nest? Isn't it fabulous? I was walking home from "my" primary school yesterday and this was lying in the middle of the playground (so no, I did not rob some poor bird of it's nest). I love it, my very own African treasure!!
Speaking of weaver-birds, I visited "Aunt Susan's tree" that I sometimes think of as the luscious tree, and the timing of my original visit was remarkable: the day that I sat there feeling sad about Aunt Susan's passing, with the lush blossoms full of nectar, their lushness, too, was very soon to pass: when I returned this past Saturday (a week later), the blossoms are still there, but the precious drops of nectar were gone. While the birds still very much like the tree, their numbers have decreased markedly. Nothing yummy to eat any longer...
I've identified this wonderful tree--and WANT ONE! :-)
Its common name is the silver oak or the silky oak, which is very misleading because it isn't an oak tree at all. Its botanical name is Grevillea robusta and according to Kristo Pienaan's The South African: What Flower is That?, it is a "large evergreen tree that drops its silver backed leaves just before flowering. Showy, golden orange flower spikes appear in spring and are rich in nectar." Lovely, lovely tree.
By the way, there are oak trees here in South Africa. They are not, however, native to South Africa and were brought here by "settlers" to this country. Both oak and pine trees were brought here to use primarily as fuel (fire) but also for building materials.
I went shopping yesterday and was standing in the grocery store wondering why I was hearing the Beach Boys singing, "Merry Christmas, Baby" when it occurred to me, that, oh, it's time for Xmas marketing (they seem to start at Halloween here as well). It was somewhat jarring to realize that the Xmas season is already upon us, because it is sunny, hot, and dry here; it is anything like the Xmas weather back home... But, sure enough, as I looked around, the store workers were very busy hanging Xmas trees, stocking the "Xmas aisle," etc.
I'll have that Beach Boy song playing in my head now for weeks...
I also found a South African "Buntons." I was walking past this wonderful, lush yard when I glanced down and saw plants marked for sale. I thought, "Wait a second, this isn't a lush, private yard, this is a plant nursery!" I abruptly turned to find my way to the store entrance.
What fun! There are my old friends potted up for sale: fuchsias, begonias, impatiens, sweet william... And yummy basil and tomato starts... I had such a good time. There were rows and rows of beautiful plants/trees/shrubs for sale. The sales clerk came bouncing out and I told her I was "browsing." At one point I thought, "Wow, I wonder if they'll let me volunteer here?" when I remembered that a similar stint this past spring at Bunton's Seed Company about did me in.
It was great fun to work with such knowledgeable people at Bunton's and they were very nice. I learned a great deal about vegetable plants--TOMATOES!, herbs, annuals, perennials, and fruit trees. But at the same time, it was a retail job (nuff said) and I'm a bit old, or my body thinks it's too old, to be standing on concrete for 8-hour stretches and hoisting 50-pound bags of compost/soil into peoples' cars (who usually bought several bags!).
My absolute favorite part of the job was watering the plants. It took most of the day to water them well and I would get grumpy having my watering task interrupted to go help those pesky customers! The watering felt like a meditation.
On the taxi ride into Vryburg yesterday I saw a beautiful bunch of moon flower growing along the side of the road with their big, white trumpeted blossoms closed in the daytime heat. Would love to sneak out at night sometime and get a peek of them opening to the moon and smelling lovely and fragrant... Maybe I can plant some...
An update on the little blind goat. He's still hanging in there! Apparently, my ministry to this animal is to help him get "unstuck." Yesterday, I heard his frantic bleating and found that he had wondered into the fenced area of the tennis court and he was stuck inside and frustrated that he couldn't get to his mother. She was standing right beside him on the OTHER side of the fencing: he was inside the court, she was outside.
I went inside the tennis court, did my best, "Come here little goat," to which he completely ignored. I gave up and walked out. A college student was nearby and watched my failed efforts. Upon my leaving, he entered the tennis court, walked BEHIND the little goat (I always try to LEAD him from the front), and "shoo ed" him out. I was greatly relieved and learned how to better herd him in the future. The college student came to advise me that he was "trying to get to his mother." Indeed he was.