PS: Catch the rest of the 2022 West Coast spring flowers and stay at Langebaan Beach Cottage (or plan 2023). ENQUIRE HERE.

Good Morning

The small, less than 60g, Curlew Sandpipers journey for around 42 days over 13 000 kilometres every year, to their breeding grounds in the Russian Tundra, from the Langebaan Lagoon. They arrive in Siberia near the beginning of the thaw, in June and they leave at the end of July/beginning of August, when cold and snow return. When they depart on migration, they weigh 80g to 90g. Their mean flight speed is 65km/h. What makes this year different is that, Curlew Sandpipers, and many other birds, probably counted in millions, are migrating through the battle zones of the eastern half of Ukraine. It is migration in a time of war. No one knows whether the habitats they use have been impacted by military activity. Daily Maverick April 2022.

While I have been a regular to Langebaan for the last twenty seven years (sparked by my family being expropriated from Lekkerwater, De Hoop, but that is a whole other story), this is the first year that I have visited the Postberg Section of the West Coast National Park,  which is open for only parts of August and September to share the spectacular acres of flowers, against the backdrop of the Langebaan Lagoon, on one side, and the wild west coast on the other.

My Mother attended the late Queen (then Princess) Elizabeth II’s 21st Birthday party, in Cape Town in 1947. She often recounted the experience, always including how one of the Van der Byl boys, when dancing with the Princess, had said “Oh, I saw your folks in town today”, speaking of the Adderley Street royal tour. She would always be filled with laughter as she thought it was both very funny and a bit silly.

Friday was a glorious day and in celebration of our last born’s twenty third birthday, we made a long weekend of it. It was a morning of “6 impossible things before breakfast” (The White Queen in Alice in Wonderland) (also Wilma Cruise 2016). Me being both competitive and compulsive, we were at the gate a few minutes after opening at 07h00. With swift permit paperwork, we were through before you could say OSTRICH! Armed with a map and natural fauna tick box, we set off. First, two ostriches with eighteen ostrichlets, second, the Grey Heron, and third, we frightened a large Bontebok grazing on the roadside (first car through). Fourth, thermos coffee to the crashing waves of this wild coast at Tsaarsbank, fifth, understanding the geographical layout of Saldanha Bay, Jutten Island, Langebaan and Schaapen Island from Uitkyk Picnic Area, and last but not least acres and acres of blooming flowers.

When hiking in Chianti, Italy, in 2019, our guide Martino, pointed out a tree filled with resting swallows (pictured). Martino explained that the swallows were gathering to rest and head out together to make their journey to the Southern Hemisphere for their other summer. We did a ten kilometre loop that day, walking from Casa di Simonetta, through the abundant natural forests of Chianti, and the Castello di Ama wine and olive farm. www.casadisimonetta.co.za

Back to last Friday, when returning to Langebaan Beach Cottage, having had the balmiest day in Postberg Nature Reserve, I picked out a book of poetry by Evelyn John Holtzhausen, IN THE PALM OF MY SOUL. Evelyn had gifted us a collection of his poetry when staying at Wildekrans Country House in November 2015. His cover note says “thank you for the peace and quiet”. This excerpt perfectly expresses our Postberg mood. The full poem is referenced below.

‘And although we blast
blow and thunder, rise up and fall,
we are as quickly gone as wind,
while what remains is here,
on this prophetic shore.

Climb down to your knees, taste
these precious hours, sip this wild,
unforgiving peace and quench
your private desolation,

Outside all the world is rage.’

 

With love,

PPS: The upside of the fynbos fires 2021, is the spectacular floral aftermath. Hike the Blue Mountain Trail this spring – spaces on 17 October and 21 November. ENQUIRE HERE.

PPPS: “6 impossible things before breakfast,” is a quote from “Alice adventure’s in Wonderlands” and “through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll. It comes from a conversation between Alice and the White Queen.

PPPPS: Evelyn Holtzhausen’s At Cape Point is on Page 11 of his IN THE PALM OF MY SOUL.