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It’s Raining in the Richtersveld

Coen van Wyk

Posted on July 10, 2019 13:16

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In a time of increasing technology and an urbanized life, it is sometimes good to remember that there is a life in nature, that the rains come again, and the thirsty desert plants celebrate its return with a display of beauty and joy.

The message came on an off-road forum: It’s raining in the Richtersveld, and also in Namaqualand. From a meagre 2mm (a twelfth of an inch for those in the Imperial system) to as much as 20mm (four-fifths of an inch), in these semi-desert regions of South Africa, that is close to the average annual rainfall.

Quiver tree, indigenous in this barren landscape


Coming as it is at the end of a seven years’ drought, it reminds me of Eugene Marais, that tragic Afrikaans poet, who recounted drug-hazed stories by vagrant Khoi storytellers who told of the first rains:

Oh, the dance of our sister, the dance of the rain. First, she calls softly, and tells of the winds, inviting them all, because the land is wide and the wedding feast ample. And the bigger game spread their nostrils to capture her scent, seeking her fine tracks in the sand, while the small animals hear her feet approaching, and sing: Our sister, you’ve come! (My abbreviated and poor translation.)

You can practically hear the phones ring in guest houses in Springbok, the main center in the Namaqualand, as people book out the town through August and into September. Because the spring flowers will be spectacular this year. That is if the seeds survived the long drought. And they should; they are desert plants, after all.  

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That's it?


We went there a few years ago, after having been told that it was not a good year and that we had missed the best flowers. After long, weary miles of hot desert road, we saw a few patches of flowers, stopped to admire, and wondered if this was all we were going to see. And then, over a ridge, there we saw the whole valley covered with orange and red. Ostriches and Oryx wading in a sea of beauty. Small watercourses choked with Arum lilies, Irises, Amaryllis, wild orchids and other flowers.

Wading in the beauty

 

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Oryx, creatures of the desert
You have to try to capture this
Surrounded by flowers
Hidden in watercourses, glory for a few days


If you are quick, you might still get a place to stay. It’s worth it!

Coen van Wyk

Posted on July 10, 2019 13:16

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Source: NPR
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A bloom generally occurs once every five to seven years, but heavy rains have produced a burst of color the likes of which...

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