30 July 2011

Next letter

Dear Stinkabelle
Missing you and Dougal lots and lots. But at least I have time to photograph flowers and don't have to keep an eye on you to see that you are not disappearing over the horizon or falling down a hole. This is a weedy little iceplant - Mesembryanthemum barklyi - growing along the banks of the flooded Orange (or Gariep) River where we camped.
Sadly, we soon had to pack up once again and negotiate our way out of the Kamgab Canyon. Luckily we managed to get the one car started with jump leads (one too many hot showers?) and we drove through the veld that was red with this strange little ground-hugging iceplant called Trianthema parvifolia. Apparently the name comes from the words tri for three, and anthos for flowers as there are three tiny flowers in the axil of each leaf - which you can see in this close-up.You would have gone mad chasing lizards.
Once we got out of the canyon, we drove to a view point, coming across this huge Sociable Weaver's nest that had caused a Quiver Tree to collapse.
From the view point we could see for miles and miles! Almost to Cape Town. You can just see the cars far below too. This beautiful Gariep River Aloe (Aloe gariepensis) was growing on the koppie, with lots of sunbirds visiting it, but they were too quick for me to photograph them, so I had to photograph this nest instead. (Not sure if it was a sunbird's though.)
One of the cars had two punctures - both at the same time, so while they changed the tyres, I had a good fossick around and found this bright beetle visiting a daisy - Arctotis venusta - which attracts beetle pollinators by having this black beetle spot that tricks beetles into thinking there are some pals of its on the flower.
I also saw a funny little bee about half the size of a honey bee visiting this Snake Lily (Ornithoglossum vulgare).
We soon got going again and made it to our campsite next to a Shepherds Tree (Boscia albitrunca) in good time. Ian and Peter decided to sleep out tonight and you can see their stretchers under the tree. While Ian and Peter slaved away to produce the supper, I climbed up the nearest little koppie and discovered ...
these lovely Oxalis flowers - possibly Oxalis pulchella - and
this gorgeous little wild iris - Moraea polystachya.
Looking down on the campsite made me realize how insignificant we are in this landscape, yet also how dangerous we humans are to this fragile and beautiful place.
Well enough philosophising for now!
I hope that all is going well at home and that you are looking after Leticia. Say hi to Doogs, Fat Cat and Dawnie
love from the Food Lady

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