Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Second time round

Who says you can't have fun the second time round?  Clearly, it all depends on your temperament, because I can happily do lots of things, over and over again and each time, the experience is fun, new and exciting...
~ The Grotto ~
Today was a perfect example of this.  My husband needed to return to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley a second time.  The first trip was to do the initial logging (GPS recording) of each of a number of sites and to do a rapid baseline assessment.

Please click on the read more button below to continue...

The one today was a lot more detailed and required that we walk the length and breadth of a site not visited previously, as well as to return to two of the earlier sites, this time to collect diatom and plant samples.  

We had packed a picnic basket, as we were going to be "site bound" and not sure precisely how lengthy the collection process would be.  I'm so pleased we did as, unlike last week when we'd picked a cool, overcast and drizzly day, we were treated to a scorcher today.  The cold juice and water was especially welcome and we tucked into our ham, cheese and mustard rolls with relish at lunchtime.  Isn't it amazing how the simplest food tastes so delicious when eaten outdoors.  

I once again entertained myself very happily while my husband was diligently collecting his samples and the following photographs serve as a taste of what pleasures awaited me in the field today...herewith, a bit of this 'n that ;)

Glorious pinoaks sporting their new green of the season.

A lovely lady of the meadow - she was not terribly cooperative of my attempts to take a flattering picture.  She seemed far more interested in eating.

Bunny-tailed grasses in their thousands!

A most intriguing dead tree covered in these unusual pods.

Delightfully carefree display of wild grasses, bracken, reeds and pink pelargonium - Nature's own floral art!

Fence pole sculpture!

The dead tree and fence pole in the context of their setting.

Beautiful blue psoralea (pea) flowers. 
This signpost is placed directly opposite the naturally occurring grotto (see below).  Beside it is a bench on which to seat oneself whilst silently assimilating the magnificence of the grotto.  A truly unspoilt and peaceful spot in which to pray, meditate or commune with Nature. So awe inspiring! 
The grotto as seen from the bench.  The light was exceedingly bright and most of the pictures I took today appear over-exposed.

Looking into the pool of water beneath the grotto.  Lilies, reeds and potamageton (pond weed).

I have never seen so many dragonflies in one place at a time.  There were blue, red and yellow ones ranging in size from quite small to almost as large as a tiny bird!

And what would a pool of water be without its resident frogs.  This fellow permitted me to come quite close.  I asked him if he'd like to come back home with me, but he said he'd found could I argue with that!

Looking through the deep, cool shade of the row of pinoaks out into the bright sunlight bathed meadow ahead. 

Reflections, shadows and the play of light.
Watch your step!  A large bird has used this stump as its toilet...I wonder where it roosts?  Oh, look above...

That large nest situated so high up indicates the presence of a fairly sizeable bird.  Without having seen the tell-tale guano below, we might have missed seeing the nest altogether.
Back to the cool shade beneath the pinoaks.  It's been a very hot day!

The following is an oft repeated refrain, but that does not diminish the value of its message...

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

~Robert Brault~

I hope you all have a glorious day!


  1. Wow..what a super beautiful have cast a magnificent spell of nature upon me..gorgeous photos and wonderful to read!
    Shine on!

  2. That, coming from you, Victoria, means a lot! You are the Queen of casting magical spells...I am truly flattered. Thank you and so glad you enjoyed my pictures. I had so much fun finding them ;)

  3. I was most impressed by the times you are able to slip off with your husband. Romantic. You are blessed.

  4. Yes, Gina. I am indeed very fortunate.

  5. Desiree,
    I am so glad you found me! Your photos are gorgeous ... so serene and peaceful.
    I especially love the quote about the little things ... isn't that what life is really all about.
    Big Hugs,

  6. So lovely to have you visit, Donna :)
    I'm pleased to know you enjoyed my photographs. I wish I could capture the sounds, smells and unbelievable tranquility of the last of the beautiful places we visited and add those to my blog as well ;)

  7. So pretty! I wish I could've been on the picnic too. It looks so warm and sunny there.

  8. It certainly was a lovely way to spend a day. I wish more could be spent like this ;)

  9. I would have grabbed the opportunity to return too. Beautiful location.

  10. Absolutely, H! Wish I could have brought back more than just a few photographs - it certainly is very much more incredible "in the flesh!"

    Hope you're having a good day? Not too freezing, I hope!

  11. Hi Desiree - I'm glad I came over to visit. This is a delightful post. I'm not surprised you accepted the chance to go back a second time. I enjoy seeing how many good photos I can get in a small area. Yours are terrific.

  12. Thank you, Jenny :)

    I'll be visiting you regularly - love your creative lens!

  13. Hi Desire, Thank you for the wonderful 'garden tour'. That's what my friends and I call it. Some of the most fun we have is visiting each others gardens, pointing out all the new blooms and getting someone else's perspective. I too, have that Bunny tail grass! It's called hedgehog dogtail grass here in California, but originally comes from Europe, I believe.
    I love, love, love how welcoming your front entry is. We live in the country and folks here come in the front, the side, the back, where ever there is a door!

    Our winds here are called Mono winds after the Mono Native Americans. Sometimes our lawn chairs are found later in the forest and the doormat in the next state. Looking forward to visiting you again soon.

  14. Wonderful to have you visit, Sue! I've just returned the courtesy and popped on over to your your blog, and...WOW! What an absolute treat! I've bookmarked you right away and am looking forward to visiting often and learning all about the Yosemite area.


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