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Humanity in Perspective

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on September 27, 2020 18:39

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With elections, political crises, pandemics and conspiracies we might just begin to think we are in the center of it all. So a look at the march of the seasons bring some new perspective -- spring comes, rain falls, deserts bloom without our help.

In July last year, I wrote that there had been good rains in the Richtersveld and that the flowers would be something to see. But I did not get to go, and this year, too, we did not manage to get away. However, friends did. Marten and Carin took little Carlien to see the wonder that happens in early spring when the sere, inhospitable desert blooms.

Such beauty! Photo by Carin Bootsma, with permission

The central and western plateau of Southern Africa is an arid expanse, part of it called Karoo by the first nations, meaning "a hard place." It is bounded to the north by the Kalahari, the "vast place" or "land of great thirst." For centuries a barrier to exploration and passage, a refuge to the persecuted, a despair to farmers, this semi-desert also has its beauty for those who take the time to look and linger.

A moment to contemplate. Photo by Carin Bootsma, with permission

Asking me for the names of the flowers would be a waste of time. There are Aizoaceae or vygies, little succulents, there are Namaqualand daisies or Dimorphoteca Sinuata, various sorts of Gerbera, there are others but for the botanists, I would say: come and see!

No idea of the name, but what a beauty! Photo by Carin Bootsma, with permission

One despairs at taking in all of this vast beauty, drinking in and storing it against an uncertain future.

All that beauty, for nobody and for everybody. Photo by Carin Bootsma, with permission

And you feel a little unimportant when you realize that all this beauty would be there even if nobody, also not you, are there to see it.

A vygie, a little succulent that will bloom even if humanity has wiped itself out. Photo by Carin Bootsma, with permission

And so, if you come to see them, you will find one, a hundred, a thousand flowers blooming, and you will be the only person ever to see them.

Sometimes beauty tires you out... Photo by Marten Bootsma, with permission

This display puts us small, self-important humans in our place -- less important than the bees that pollinate the flowers, we do not contribute to this grandeur, we cannot even adequately describe it.

Vastness. Photo by Marten Bootsma, with permission

In the end, you give up trying to photograph, describe, study it. In the end, you just discorporate and absorb the beauty, become part of it and then it becomes part of you.

Another one just for you. Photo by Carin Bootsma, with permission
Coen Van Wyk

Posted on September 27, 2020 18:39

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