Shades of winter

We live in the most diverse floristic kingdom in the world which has a Mediterranean climate.  The contrast between our part of South Africa and the Highveld struck me again as I flew between Cape Town and Johannesburg last week.  The latter, which has had rain, is lush and green.  In our part of the world, except for cultivated land: the vineyards, orchards and domestic gardens, the veld (countryside), is drab and brown but with its own beauty.

Then, as I was browsing through my photographs, looking for something else, I found these.


All of these grew (some naturally occurring, some cultivated) and were picked on the mountains above our village, and all except the Banksia, are indigenous and natural (i.e. not dyed).

Our mountains after a hot summer, before the winter rain.


A closer look at the colours to which we look forward each winter.


Not all are as vibrant.  The aptly-named blushing bride is delicate and ethereal.


In 40°C+ (100°F+) heat, winter cold is hard to contemplate.  I hate winter.  The flowers are the best thing about it, especially as they are at their best when the weather’s the coldest and just before spring.


Having seen Hugh’s post about this week’s WordPress Daily post photo challenge, and this week’s theme, “vibrant”, this is my entry.

© Fiona’s Favourites 2016

The Pavement Persian Princess

Three years ago this month (December), just after the first anniversary of our arrival in McGregor, we had to say goodbye to our Pavement Persian. She joined Calico and me in as I was “transitioning” from a “past life” and before I met The Husband.  At the time, Calico and I had moved from a house with four other cats, to one with just us.  As we had been when we had left Johannesburg some six years earlier.  A friend figured that we could offer a good home to another feline.  Tasha.

Briefly, she had been acquired from a pet shop, interestingly, also some six years earlier, and needed a new home.  Her owners were going their separate ways and her home was no more.

And so, Tasha arrived in my life.

In the cool of a summer night

Her lineage was clear:  Persian royalty somewhere along the line, but to have ended up in a pet shop, it’s likely she had ascended from a pavement somewhere.

As it turned out, she had been a solitary cat;  her previous owners spent a great deal of time working and socialising away from their abode.  Adapting to a feline sister, and the Cat’s Mother, who worked from a home office, took some doing for this princess.  On all our parts.  Twice she tried to return to her old stomping ground, only to return having discovered that her old home was no more.  The tendency to go back to her old turf was a pattern she was to continue with other moves, including to McGregor, but each time she returned – she must have figured we were ok.

To add insult to injury, not long after her arrival, Tasha developed a nasty eye condition that necessitated extended hospitalisation and surgery.  So when The Husband (then not) arrived on the scene, about eighteen months after she had deigned to finally take up residence, she was still very much in Greta Garbo mode:  a snarling, grey ball of fur that hissed at him (and sometimes me) from under the bed, only to emerge when it suited her.

Supervising The Cat’s Mother in the office

Needless to say, she eventually settled and even accepted Melon when she arrived ten or so years later, in December 2009.

When we moved to McGregor, she was about 18 and about two weeks after we arrived, she went walkabout, having not strayed until then.  I had visions of her trying to head back to Cape Town – some 200km hence.  Forty-eight hours later, as I was sitting and contemplating what I thought was her inevitable demise, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye:  there she was, warily making her way down the hill in the lei water channel.

The lei water (lead water) channel is just the other side of the fence. This photo (courtesy of Shaun King), taken the year we moved to McGregor, shows how dry and inhospitable the terrain is during the height of summer.

Home Tasha came, but she was dehydrated, with an eye infection, and it was hot.  Very hot – about 40ºC (105ºF), a temperature none of us was used to, having not long moved from much more temperate Cape Town.

The trip to Dr Vet and subsequent regimen of hourly administered medication were so traumatic that we thought it would kill her.  It forced us to take the difficult decision to allow her to just be a princess – no medication, but food if she wanted, and water – in her favourite spot.

Very hot and unwell

That evening we said good night to our much loved Tasha, and went up to bed not knowing whether it was also “Goodbye…”

The Cat’s Mother is a coward and the following morning, The Husband was dispatched downstairs.  Imagine our surprise:  not only was she still alive, but she had rallied.

Tasha recovering from her adventure and brush with death

And she got stronger and stronger.

Tasha in her winter coat, May 2012, when she was about 19.

She coped with the winter by snuggling up to the fire in her basket – she wasn’t able to get up the stairs and curl up on the bed.  It was, however, her last winter and by spring, she was becoming more, and more frail and disoriented.  By the end of November, we knew that the decision was nigh.  We were privileged that Dr Vet agreed to come to The Sandbag House which spared everyone the final trip and some of the trauma of that last goodbye.

Because Tasha had always been aloof and too old to play with Melon, it had always been assumed that the old lady would not be missed.  But miss her, Melon did.  Something had to be done.

So Rosie arrived.  The sisters who never met now lie side-by-side in the shade of the Karee, and where both Melon and Pearli take refuge from the hot summer sun.


© Fiona’s Favourites 2015