Recently, The Husband did a bit of work for the friends of the local nature reserve, Vrolijkheid, moving the visitor’s kiosk from one spot to another and generally refurbishing it. During the course of the job, the concrete slab had to be damped down twice daily. One Saturday afternoon, I went along with him. Camera in hand.
The dry, hot summer had taken its toll. The veld was tinder dry and the mountains clear in the afternoon distance.
This magnificent Karee provides shade from the baking sun in the car park. Notwithstanding my fascination with all trees, it was the trees in the shady picnic area that attracted my particular attention that afternoon. Young Karees interspersed with mature, gnarly acacias.
First, it was the lichen that invited a closer inspection. Received understanding is that lichen is a good indicator of the prevailing winds because it grows on the leeward side of the trees. Not so, in the heart of this grove, it grows on the inside of each nest of acacia tree trunks. Away from any weather.
Wandering between the trees, it was these acacias that captured me.
Back to Vrolijkheid and Acacia Karroo. These trees are beautifully old and they drip with resin which, as children, we used to eat. As I recall, it had a tangy sort of pine flavour and was soft and sticky; a bit like toffee. Besides the acacia being a legume with all the benefits of nitrogen-fixing for the soil, it turns out that the Sweet Thorn does have nutritional and medicinal qualities (leaves and pods on which animals browse). The resin was at one point, exported as “Cape Gum” for use in confectionary.*
The colours of the dripping gum are beautiful. It forms the most magnificent stalactites that deposit resin onto mounds of wannabe stalagmites on the ground below. Unless you are looking for them, though, the gummy piles are well camouflaged and easy to miss.
The deep colour of the weeping bark contrasts with the silver-grey lichen and reminded me of amber. It made me wonder whether, perhaps, this oozing red gold might be how it starts out. It might be.
After The Husband had finished the job, he wanted to show me his handiwork, so late one blustery Sunday afternoon, we trundled down to have a look.
Everyone’s delighted with the end result. Including his greatest critic, The Husband, himself.
As we left, the sun was setting and the southeaster was pouring over the mountains.
* For more about Acacia Karro, growing habit and uses
©Fiona’s Favourites 2016