Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An unimaginable loveliness

There’s a hidden spot on Table Mountain at the bottom of a long green mossy gorge, where a stream tinkles down all year round. At the foot of the gorge it gathers into a pool with big flat rocks all around it.

It is a place of beauty, but at this time of the year, when the red disas sway over the rock pool on their long green stems like dancers on slim legs, it becomes a place of unimaginable loveliness.

Orchid petals shimmer darkly pink in the filtered sun and their reflections on the water are creased by a bee swimming.

Then a dragonfly lands on a stick and a frog on a rock goes plop as it dives into the water.

Disa Gorge called my name.

Disa reflections.

Grass swirls around a red crassula.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Red jewels, blue treasure

We started our annual pilgrimage to see the red disas on a silver morning where mist floated off the sea and the day balanced on the edge of a coin between hot or cold.

Myburgh’s Ravine above Hout Bay lay in the dappled shade of old yellowwoods and rooi els and a carpet of waxy little yellow flowers had been shaken like tree dust over the forest floor.

We found the red disas near the top of the ravine and caught our breaths. The sort of breath you breathe in a cathedral, an art gallery, the first view of a new continent. Scatterlings of scarlet danced on green mossy ravine walls, dipping and swaying on their long stems in the cool morning air that drifted down.

 In the thick green shade last night’s misty rain still lay in droplets on their red petals. Disa uniflora. Pride of Table Mountain. Our own orchids, jewel of the mountain.

But from this jewel-red start, the day turned blue. At the top of the ravine mist blew in in blue-grey shards. In her usual way, Table Mountain had some surprises for us. We had started off to find the red disas, but then discovered a treasure-chest of blue: blue disas, agapanthus, blue lobelia, blue roellas. We found the blue disa by chance as we took a wrong turning and made a detour on a wild and distant corner of the mountain above Hout Bay.

Then we found the right way, where Llandadno Ravine had gashed a steep path down the mountain, and it was like climbing down a ladder from the blue sky to the blue ocean. The day had finally turned from the edge of the coin and now it lay in front of us: filled with blue, sunny side up. 

Blue disa, herschelia graminifolia, above Llandadno Ravine.
Shrouded Agapanthus. 
Tea break on Hout Bay Corner.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Surrounded by mountains, cloaked in mist

Last night I went to the top of Table Mountain to see the moon rise and the sun set. This ordinary sentence, written on an ordinary Tuesday, doesn't start to describe what I saw. 
The world from up there was an action movie. Clouds raced over the mountains and  sunlight burst through in golden circles, only to disappear in the next moment.

The bay and the Cape flats lay under a blanket of puffy silver mist that moved, shrunk and stretched into different shapes minute by minute.  A ship pulled out of the harbour, the setting sun reflecting on its white chimney, before disappearing into a dark, white world. 
Platteklip Gorge makes a dent in Table Mountain's shadow on Devils Peak.
From the top of Table Mountain, the Helderberg and Stellenbosch mountains stood like cardboard cut-outs in the late light, as close as the next suburb. 
At last the sun dropped over the horizon, as if burning a hole into the billowing mist and the sky burst into orange fire. 
Then the moon popped out behind the clouds, high in the sky, and the last cable car down was called.

Not an ordinary day at all.