Saturday, September 5, 2009


This afternoon we took a walk down our lane. It is a paved track on the narrow valley floor that ends in a close. There's a wood opposite the homes, with a stream running down from the mountains and lots of big, old trees - though they are all exotic to our land - Oaks, Cypresses, Pines, Bluegums. Most of the undergrowth too, is exotic.

While it's not at all ecologically sound, our little stretch of Nature still supports abundant Life. We have resident breeding Forest Buzzard, Gymnogene, Wood Owl and African Goshawk as well as Hadeda Ibis, Eygptian Goose, Cape Francolin and Guinea Fowl, and many smaller delightful birds. Every now and then some night traveller sees a Porcupine; and one dusky evening our landlady glimpsed a Caracal. In our Winter rainy season, black River Crabs cross the Lane.

There's an effort now amongst the residents to take better care of the Nature around us. Some young indigenous trees have been planted and neighbours are better informed about invasive species. People are keeping an eye on others to discourage the dumping of garden waste along the stream as this is what leads to much of the taking over of exotic species.

Today, at the end of the Lane, I noticed a clump of Bugweed - I don't know it's scientific name, where it originates from or how it came to be in South Africa. But I know it is very invasive and needs to be pulled. I stopped and grabbed hold of a plant, and then noticed this beautiful little chameleon on a twig right next to my hand. It's a Cape Dwarf Chameleon, the only chameleon on the Peninsula.

My parents' generation remember gardens full of chameleons when they were children. All that changed by the time of my childhood, mostly thanks to gardeners using pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers. Chameleons were uncommon when I was a child, and in my adulthood, a sighting causes major excitement.

I am so grateful my baby saw this particular Chameleon today. From now on, a Chameleon is no longer a picture in a book or a wood sculpture on the windowsill. It is an exquisite, alive, leaf-green, pink-and-blue, unbelievably delicate and extraordinary creature.

I am so grateful for Nature's resilience. We need to be determined to save this Earth. Life will meet us halfway.

1 comment:

  1. Note to self: Bugweed - Solanum mauritianum.

    South African Invasive alien from Tropical America.