December with Simon's Town and Blackhill fires

  

- gardening for biodiversity

by Diana Studer

 in Cape Town, South Africa

 

January is named for Janus, who has 2 faces. One looking back, and one looking at the here and now. Two women chatting while they sew in Trieste, where we first saw and boarded our monster ship.

 

Women sewing in Trieste for Janus - looking back and to now
Women sewing in Trieste
for Janus - looking back and to now

My anniversary roses lasted thru the whole month.

 

Anniversary roses
Anniversary roses

Advent wreath kept simple with fragrant pelargonium leaves, topped up with Plectranthus sprigs. Ringed with silk baubles, whose red has faded to old rose down the sunny Southern years.

 

Advent wreath 2023
Advent wreath 2023

For Christmas we deck our yacht with a string of lights (and an angel chorus). One of the bulbs died, and the spare was red, so we parked that one at the top of the mast - warning to low-flying aircraft.

 

Red light at the top of the mast for our Christmas yacht
Red light at the top of the mast for our Christmas yacht

In Greece I bought a Christmas star, cut from olive wood, guiding the Wise Men from the East to the manger - while dodging falling rockets in 2023.

 

Olive wood Christmas star from Greece
Olive wood Christmas star from Greece

Fire broke out high on the slope above Simon's Town. Down to the Cape Point entrance, and inland across the summit, it is all ash. Waiting for gentle autumn rain. The wind was raging. At its worst we had over 800 firefighters on duty.

 

Smoke from Simon's Town fire
Smoke from Simon's Town fire

Two days later a second fire started along Brakkloofrant, the ridge behind our house. That day the wind was calm and we drove home along the coast, to be greeted by an alarming volcano of dark smoke. When the wind picked up, it drove the fire from far right (out of my picture) where it started, towards the sea (left of my picture) By then there was a dedicated spotter plane circling each fire. Little yellow plane looping above us, directing an aerial ballet between 3 water-bombing helicopters. Each one had its dedicated place to loop off and refill. Then meticulously choreographed to dump their bucket in turn, just, there, thank you!

 

Brakkloofrant fire edging down our slope
Brakkloofrant fire edging down our slope

Feeding two, I started with a pumpkin. Made curry, then 3 meals. With rice and lentils, garnished with mange tout. With broccoli, Asian noodles, and pumpkin seed garnish. The last hearty portion with tofu cubes and a dollop of atjar for extra crunch and flavour.

 

Pumpkin curry times 3
Pumpkin curry times 3

Next year will be garden time. Bietou in our tapestry hedge, which split in half in a storm wind years ago, has died altogether. I trimmed out the arms - which made a carload for municipal composting. Left the legs for support and screening. Plants either side have already reached out and joined hands. Autumn rain will fill the gap. Garlic buchu is another victim from our early planting. Intense deep blue of Anchusa capensis, which is seeding itself, makes me happy! Yellow Bulbine was two wisps tucked in with South Africa rose as groundcover - now two honking chunks flourishing on all that food and water! - moved them to the bed below our bedroom window.

 

December garden
December garden

I brought Greek olive oil soap as gifts. This package was decorated with a deepest blue glass bead 'eye'. For peace and calm, while the world rages around us.

 

Olive oil soap for a fresh clean start to 2024
Olive oil soap for a fresh clean start to 2024

May tomorrow bring peace and calm to our world. To Gaza and the Ukraine, to Syria...

 

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Comments

  1. I'm sorry to hear about the fires, Diana. I know only too well how anxiety-producing those events are - at least things came out okay for you. Enjoy the new year's plunge back into the garden!

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  2. Such pretty photos! Wishing you and yours all the best for this new year, dear Diana, hope it's a good one!
    Amalia
    xo

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  3. It must have been so frightening to have fires so near! Your pumpkin sounds delish, are you a vegan? I’m not, but I eat a dairy free diet, so vegan meals are always intriguing because I know they’re safe for me to eat.

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    Replies
    1. This fire was okay, we have had them MUCH nearer, both here - and especially when we lived in Camps Bay with 3 houses between us and Table Mountain National Park.
      Not vegan - I have tried without dairy but. I make vegan or dairy free meals when I can. These 3 would work for you - coconut milk and soy paneer or tofu.

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  4. I really like the idea of looking back and looking in the now - that's such an inspirational idea for this month. Sorry about the fires, that must have been very scary.

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