Sunday, January 4, 2009

Calitzdorp January 2009

Back in August of 2008 we wrote of our search for the wild gazanias in the Klein Karoo and our trip to Calitzdorp. Well, we made that trip again last week, but for a different purpose.

We did stay at the old schoolhouse, and we did visit the makers of port wine, but the real purpose of the trip was to get away from telephones, cell phones, and computers. There was no way for us to check email or use a phone. It was a lovely,
quiet, peaceful time.

Calitzdorp is about a five hour drive east of Cape Town, in the Klein Karoo, a very dry desert-like area which gets very hot in the summertime. We were extremely fortunate to have three days of relatively cool weather; highs in the 80s and nights cool enough for fleece. Our August trip was highlighted by the blooms of the aloes in this area. They don’t do as well in the summer.

They tend to turn red, a sign of stress, and the younger ones fold up in defense. Actually, I think the top surface cells lose moisture and shrink, causing the appearance of folding up. This brings to mind the whole process of adaptation and evolution, but that’s another whole set of articles.

The old schoolhouse is located near a river and its dam. We saw some birds, like this heron; heard some baboons, definitely pests here because they raid the fruit orchards;

and Kurt, reminding Zindzi how to swim. He also tried Thula, their year old puppy, but met with limited success.

Other high points were some of the succulents that we saw on our walks while out in the country. This protea with its stunning flower was an unexpected find.

The fantastic geometrics of this little succulent just make you wonder how and why.

And then we spotted these bright yellow blooms and went to investigate. There are no leaves on the stems of this plant. Just stubby little fingers. Amazing!

I just had to save the best for last. This flower greeted us on our return to Cape Town. It was blooming in Becky & Kurt’s front yard. It is one of the group of plants nicknamed “Carrion” flowers because the pollinators are flies attracted by the perfume of rotting meat. Eeeewwwww! And, did I mention adaptation?

We all had a restful holiday – no parties or fireworks – just the stars and peace. We wish the same for you and yours in 2009.


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