Monday, December 27, 2010

Ah, at last! Relaxing into the park!

I’m a bit beyond my half-way mark for my stay in the park, but I must admit, it’s been much more of a whirlwind than I prefer. Although I very much appreciate everyone’s willingness to take me here and there, and I’m grateful to have seen so much of the park (or at least, the Silvermine Nature Reserve part of the park), I’ve felt like I’m running here and there, rushed, every single day—my days are going by in a blur! I go, go, go all day, every day, come home and fall into bed, only to rise again the next day to go, go, go again. I’m grateful to say that things have calmed down a bit for me, and I’m settling in and enjoying the park—at my own pace.

Everyone “in charge” seems to be out now for holiday and even Raquel has left, so I’m finding myself happily alone. While I can still go out on ranger patrol if I’d like, the park is also very happy for me to wander around the park to discover and learn what I can.

In my hike today, the Monday after Christmas, I went about poking and plodding around at a very leisurely place. I felt less frantic about taking pictures (I took over 300 yesterday--the Sunday after Christmas and only took 80 today) and felt better about just sitting in spots and taking in the quiet nature of the park. The park is basically divided into three parts: the Table Mountain part which is the furthest north on the peninsula; the Silvermine Nature Preserve, which is in the middle of the peninsula (and where I stay); and the Cape Point Nature Reserve, which is the farthest south. Both the Table Mountain sections and the Cape Point sections are the busier sections of the park, but I’m glad to be at the quieter section.

Today I walked to the Higher Steenberg Peak of the Silvermine valley. I wasn’t up for a mountain climb, as it was dark and misty at the top, but I enjoyed going up far enough to enjoy a view of Table Mountain: the mountain was covered with its “table cloth” of cloud cover and looked majestic and beautiful. Since I live in the Silvermine river valley, I usually can’t see Table Mountain, so it was a treat—and a surprise—to find the mountain from this area of the park today.

I found a couple of nice lunch spots, or spots lovely enough for sitting and dreaming. In the photo of me, I’m actually on a cliff overlooking a valley (and a very sharp and deep drop of the cliff’s edge!) and that is Noordhoek Beach in the very far distance. From my perch I had lunch and spied about from my binoculars. I scanned the beach and wondered what the big brown glob was sitting in the sand and then I remembered the shipwreck of the Kakapo: we passed it while on a previous ranger patrol of Noordhoek Beach. (I took a picture of Raquel and Byron standing beside the boilers of the shipwreck: see blog on “Ranger Patrol”.) Sure enough, I could make out the boilers of the shipwreck in my binoculars. I’ve read that the ship drove itself to shore in 1900, in a somewhat embarrassing way. Perhaps it was foggy! I often wonder why shipwrecks aren’t “cleaned up,” but I guess they serve as historical markers. Anyway, it was somewhat amazing to me that I could see the shipwreck on the beach from my mountain perch so far away.

Later, I found a lovely, lovely secluded pond. It seemed like perfect: it had water lilies, in bloom and in pads, and all types of other pond plants. Wherever there is water there is life, so the pond was teeming with frogs and birds and butterflies.

I also came upon a type of rock formation that I’m supposed to be taking pictures of! That is Table Mountain, covered with its “table cloth,” in the background.

Of all fynbos plants, the many proteas and restios, I think my favorite is the Watsonia. I believe they are in the same plant family as gladiolas, and I delight in seeing these amazing blooms just popping up all over the mountains and along the river valleys. Once, I made a pitiful attempt to plant some gladiolas back home in Louisville, but remember the first spring breeze knocking them over. These watsonias, however, are unbothered by the strong gusts of the south-easterly winds of Cape Town summers. The wind here is amazingly strong. I’m not good at estimating wind speed, but it’s strong enough to knock my chakalaka, which has the consistency of chili, out of my spoon and into my lap if I try to eat outside. The beautiful blooms of the watsonia are graceful and supple in the demanding winds and remain tall and proud in refusal of bending. I just love them and they will always represent the fynbos for me!

I did find some animal friends today: two of the turtle tribe and a beautiful orange-breasted sunbird. I was excited to see a sunbird because I can often hear them, but rarely see them. S/he hovered about probing his long, curved beak into the many-blossomed watsonias. It was lovely.  (Alas, I've tried to upload an image of an orange-breasted sunbird to no avail.  If you'd like to see one, google it.)

If you’d like to see still more flowers of the fynbos that I came upon my walk today, see my public Facebook page. You need not be a member of Facebook to view these photos: 



  1. I saw a turtle in the park. it was about 17 inches long. Same one?

  2. Pops! I didn't know you kept up with the blog! Um, I didn't think my turtle was quite so large, but I'm a bad judging the size, weight, distance, speed, etc. of things. Or better said, I guess, I don't pay close enough attention! And I'm bad about putting things in the picture to better indicate perspective (like my foot, I guess). This guy was about 12 inches long and very, very fast. I was hoping he'd be still so I could get a good shot of him, but he would have nothing of it! He was moving so quickly, i think he could have ou-raced the hare! Happy New Year hugs from Africa!