Monday, May 17, 2010

A Sunday of delight

Something strange greeted us in the east when we woke up on Sunday morning. It was the sun. Almost unseen for the past two weeks, it made its re-appearance with a mad jumble of red and pink clouds streaked across the horizon. Every last shred of grey rain and cold was gone. It was a beautiful day.
We met Siegie and Wendy and their ridgeback Duma at Silvermine East. The fynbos exploded with birdsong. Sunbirds and sugarbirds dipped and flapped through the fresh air. Wendy said it was the mating season of the sunbirds. There certainly was excitement in the air as the orange breasted sunbirds with their bright round little bodies danced around the females.
Siegie and Wendy are training for Kilimanjaro, so we took the steepest route up, aiming for Steenberg Peak. The viewpoint up there also happens to be the perfect tea spot. From there we could see mist floating up in a straight line against the mountains in the distance. Clouds scattered high like white shards of an egg that had hatched the deep blue sky. The sun was on our backs and our bare arms. It was 16 May, almost the middle of winter. But the coast was not completely clear, so to speak. We could see fog rolling in from the ocean below us, like a duvet that had slipped off the bottom of the bed. We enjoyed the sun on our arms, knowing that in our packs we had weatherproof jackets and warm tops.
This walk is a walk. From Steenberg Peak the path gradually goes down into the valley and at Junction Pool you can casually walk slightly uphill again towards the Amphitheatre. Nellie’s Pool is along the way, a spot of silver water where there is always a frog or two that plop into the water as soon as they hear feet on the path.
Even the oxalis purpurea unfurled bright pink petals that became paler shades of pink as they opened. They sat in pink clumps all along the path, scatterlings of a spring to come.
We found one of Silvermine’s specialities, the endemic Erica urna-viridis. Just like the name says, its sticky flowers look like small green urns hanging upside down.
On this day of ambling, it was now time for lunch and we found a spot near the Amphitheatre. Here the air moved a little colder and we hid behind one of those rocks carved out by wind and rain.
Then we discovered someone had moved the Amphitheatre. Or rather, it wasn’t where I thought it was. But fortunately we had some level-headed leaders amongst us to keep us on the straight and narrow, or to be more accurate, the winding and narrow path.
Still the delights kept coming. A king protea appeared behind a rock, sitting there in its royal pink fullness, as if waiting for its subjects. On our wandering way down, a rooi Afrikaner dangled its head along the path, a tight bloom in reserve for the next burst of sunshine.
Suddenly there were clouds of flying ants in the air and swifts above us swerving and diving to catch them. Now the air was almost humid.
The last stretch of our ambling way took us over the river and below us we could hear the waterfall splashing down. After a long dry summer, the mountain was singing again with the songs of water.

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