Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spring has sprung in my part of the world!

Well, as soon as I say, "spring has sprung," we've plummeted back into freezing temperatures!  I've gone from wearing shorts and a tank top back to layers and ear warmers!  Oh well.  There are certainly SIGNS that spring is on the way.

Here are some shots of some things around my campus/community.  There are a couple of trees and wildflowers in bloom and the invasive Mexican poppy (plant with thorns)  that I was so taken with when I first arrived in South Africa.  (Now that I'm clear in my understanding that this plant is not welcome here, I no longer thrill to see its bloom!)

But we have new pine cones and emerging green from the burned landscape.  That's me in a tank top when it was warm (a few days ago) and me shirted on the pay  phone.  I make my long-distance phone calls from a pay phone on campus using a World Call long distance call.  The calls aren't cheap, but necessary!  I usually talk to everyone in my family at least once a month, or try to.

What else do we have here... There is a shot of our sunrise a few days ago...  The early morning cloud cover made me ache for rain (it hasn't rained here since April) but the clouds burned off later that morning.  One thing that happens when winter is ending and spring is coming is the African winds begin to blow.  I've read that tornadoes only occur in Northern America and do not occur in Africa; however, the winds that blow here are bad enough that we don't need tornadoes!  I despair in seeing my clothes drying in the dusty winds and take small consolation in the idea of a "dust bath."  If dust baths are good enough for birds, perhaps their good enough for my just-washed laundry! 

And there is a shot of the ants returning... I'm not happy to see these guys become active again!  They are voracious biters and a real curse in summer time! They glom onto you if you stop walking even for a second.

One shot is a burn spot surrounded by reeds.  When I arrived on site last year, I remember falling asleep at night to the sound of frogs calling in the night.  I remember thinking, "I'm at the edge of the desert and it is very dry here...  That sound cannot be frogs calling."  Well, yes it was!  In the shot of the sunrise there is a big, square object.  The big square object is a water tower located here on campus and very near this burned, reedy spot in the photograph.  Well, the water tower leaks.  The leak is a bad thing, of course, in regards to water conservation.  However, the water leak is a GREAT thing if you want to develop a wetland habitat.  If you have a wetland habitat, you get frogs, animals that feed on frogs, a HUGE variety of birds, including a variety of water fowl.  When the rains come, this burned, black spot will fill with water and the frogs will sing again!  I'm so excited! I can't wait for it to rain!!

And then lastly, spring calling means I'm feeling the urge to dig again.  So, one photo is of a big hole.  I'm digging a trench garden.  Now, those of you who know me well know that I'm inherently lazy and digging, really big digging is not my thing.  I'd much rather garden with mulching and composting techniques, but mulching and composting techniques don't go over well here (they burn EVERYTHING here!).  But, trench gardening is the recommended gardening style for establishing food sustainability and I'm hoping to go out into my community and establish food gardens (trench gardens) for the needy.  Since I've only read about trench gardens, I thought I'd better practice what I preach, and I sure in the heck need to know how labor-intensive this project is, especially if I'm working with orphans or crippled old ladies.

I thought digging the beds would be killer, but I do a little at a time.  And because trench gardening has other steps: collecting organic material to "fill" the trenches and use as mulch, I have other things to do to build in breaks from my digging.  Also, as we have free-roaming goats, I'll need to build a fence, or my very labor-intensive trenched beds will be a lovely buffet for the free-roaming goats!  So, I also take breaks from digging to collect material to build a fence.

The easiest and most effective way to fence would be to use barbed-wire and posts; however, since many in my community will not have money even for modest fencing, I will try fencing with thorns, of which we have plenty.

Wish me luck!  And wish me luck that this cold spell moves back quickly into spring! 

Soon, Karen

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