The Contour Path above Voelklip

This morning’s walk saw 12 Hurriers enjoying the Contour path above Voelklip in overcast, but exceptionally humid conditions.  There was some chatter about the contours not being followed as there are some steep sections here and there, and we took the escape route down to 17th Avenue, rather than continuing to the end, but overall it was a good outing and one that stretched our bodies and pleased our eyes.  We covered around 6,5 km.

Mossel River path renewal

HERBS

If you go down to the Mossel today you are in for a big surprise.

Everyone should gather there because…

Todays the day you can once more walk along the path next to the river from the sea to the Three Dams. Frank Woodvine and his Malawian men together with some enthusiastic HBS members have hacked and pulled,  slogged and cleared. On Wednesday 23 January 18 excited botanical walkers investigated what had been done.

Starting west of the river mouth, head north until you cross the river to resume walking north, now on the river east bank. A shady section of indigenous trees still shows signs of invading trees, mostly garden escapees from local houses. These will be removed. Just before you reach the bridge across the R 43 near the Voelklip circle, dense bush and rushing river made the path impassable.

But no more! You can now walk to…

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Hurriers Christmas Party

We had a wonderful party tonight to celebrate another year of walking and enjoying the company of like-minded walkers. We had great food provided by Bruce and his team, we were privileged to enjoy Kinki’s beautiful home and we had some great entertainment from the Thespian section of our group.  Here they are in all their glory!  I tried to add the video, but without success.  It was so funny!

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Piet’s AMOEBA Walk

This morning Piet promised us an interesting walk – described by him as “The Amoeba”  It was 5.4 km in length and it was most enjoyable, taking 15 Hurriers through a section of the burn and then around Lemoenkop and back to the Visitors’ Centre.  Well done, Piet!  We saw the first Fire Lilies in bloom and there will no doubt be hundreds of them in the next two weeks.

It was sad to see Geraldine’s bench – completely burnt, and also burnt sign posts, which will need to be replaced.

Important Art Exhibition in Hermanus

HERBS

Margaret de Villiers’ beautiful botanical art is currently on show at the FynArts Gallery in Hermanus.  This is a unique opprtunity for the public to see and enjoy this wonderful work by one of our best local artists and winner of countless awards, both local and international.  Not only that, but these originals and art prints are available for purchase at reduced prices, so make the most of this chance to acquire some collectors’ pieces.

The pictures below show some of the display, as well as some close-ups of the actual paintings, demonstrating the incredible attention to detail that characterises Mags’ work.

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Sauntering

Piet sent me this, which I am happy to copy for the Hurriers;

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Hiking — “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains — not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

John Muir

A Walk near the edge of the Burn

This morning’s walk in Fernkloof took 15 hikers into the edge of the recent burn before turning back to walk along the front of Kanonkop and over Lemoenkop.  It was interesting to see how the Phaenocoma prolifera (Cape Everlasting) appeared to have its flowers unscathed by the fire. Perhaps this plant has some chemical resistance to burning as the petals are certainly dry enough to catch at the first sign of fire.  This is a protection method for its seeds, but I wonder how it works.

I attach some images of what the smoke was like in Prestwick Village as the inferno blazed above us on the mountain.  It was pretty scary and our thoughts go out to all those who were badly affected and who lost so much.

A Letter from a Distant Cousin

Sometimes one digs into one’s family history a bit and discovers the most fascinating stories.  John and I may have met, as he says, in Brazil in the mid-forties, but our paths have never crossed since that time.  How amazing therefore, to receive his interesting letter after more than seventy years, written in response to my inquiries re ‘Lost’ family members.  This is what he wrote.

Dear Ronnie,

As far as I remember, we met briefly  on Fazendas Três Barras as children, where I ate mangoes and rode along the Rio Grande with your father.  Now that we are of an age when we might have enjoyed these recollections our health has slapped us with a peremptory No!

But let’s make do with what we still can.

Regarding the Dawsons, I am sure I know nothing Barbara does not know better. So I’ll tell you a little about our mother’s German family – the Beckers. Grandfather Franz Richard Becker was born in Erfurt, Thuringenand and became a painter at Weimar. He married Marie Sophie Fischer and they had two children – Kurt and Johanna (Hanni) Charlotte, born on May 4, 1908.

In World War I, Franz – an ecologist at a time when this word was as yet meaningless – became a stretcher-bearer, for he wanted to save, not kill until he was wounded.  His dream was to emigrate to Brazil, which he only accomplished in 1922 because Germany had no ships left after its industrial park was taken over by the allies for war reparation. 

The Beckers broke open a farm of meagre success in the jungle of Dona Emma in Santa Catarina, where Marie was bitten and nearly killed by a bothtropic jararaca snake while a jaguar sneaked around their provisory hut after baby Erich, whom they had adopted and brought from Germany.

After painting a portrait of the wife of Indian protector Eduardo Hoerhan, Franz lived with the Botocudo Indians, whose pictures brought him fame. 

Meanwhile Johanna, now a teenager of considerable beauty but barefoot and often hungry, became the object of gossip when she got pregnant of Rolf, born on April 19, 1929.

Dr. Goebbels’ war propaganda did not impress Johanna, who set out for São Paulo, where she began to work for the English at Frigorífico Anglo. Here she got pregnant again, by Cyril Charles Coningham, who left her for South Africa. This affair resulted in John, born on September 2, 1935.

Then Johanna married Frank Leigh Dawson, who bought a farm near Cotia, São Paulo, for the Beckers to take care of. 

Here Barbara Jane (my first cousin) was born.

This farm was haunted, believe it or not, which was probably why Frank found it cheap. Ours was the only family who did not suffer a tragedy here. The two babies of one family were out in the patio one evening when a servant threw a fluttering lamp from inside the house, which exploded upon them. The teenage girl of another, got her arm caught in the buzz saw. The son of the new owners after us – a priest – drowned in the lake where I used to fish. 

Of our family, Grandpa Becker was caught in the pasture by the bull and hurled into the air, saved only by Grandma clubbering the animal resolutely on the horns with a tool handle; brother Rolf was hit by a car and squashed against the street-car on the step of which he was travelling; baby sister Barbara nearly suffocated of diphtheria. Rolf ran on foot to fetch a taxi from Cotia, and Barbara was operated promptly upon arrival at the hospital. “Just in time”, said Dr. Warren. But I was by far the most persecuted by the Evil: at age two I fell into a pond, the bottom of which consisted of glass shards from broken bottles – I don’t know how I got out; at three I was run over by a break-away horse pulling a sled loaded with maize, left leg broken in two places, plus lesser wounds all over; at five I was bitten by a jaracaca and suffered a tremendous allergic reaction; at seven I was hit by a car. Fortunately in those days cars were slower.

Then Frank sold that farm and bought another, wilder one in Embu south of São Paulo, where nothing ever happened.

Next we moved to Santos. Meanwhile Rolf had become a pilot. I joined the Army, first the Coast Artillery, then the Cavalry in Mato Grosso. After six years I left the military for my nine-month motorcycle trip across the Americas, after which I got married and went to work for Winchester (“The Gun that won the West”) in Connecticut. Later Fazenda Bodoquena in the Pantanal, Trans-Amazon Highway building bridges, etc. and became a writer.

Yours,

John