Monday, August 13, 2012

Another season - the Swartland in spring

 Photo: Peter van Noord

My friend Peter van Noord posted some green pictures of the Swartland on his Facebook page, and alerted me to them. This is the road to the small town where he and his partner Johan van Zyl live. It's called Koringberg, or Wheat Mountain, because this is the middle of the rolling wheatfields, about an hour and a bit northwest of Cape Town, in the region called the Swartland. Or Blackland. I don't know the origin of the name. The Swartland is synonymous with wheat. 

Now, everything is green in the Swartland, because it is a winter rainfall region. And August is early spring.

I visited Johan and Peter in January, driving out there in my father's beloved 4 x 4, which has carried us on wonderful trips, and I took the same picture, above. It was hot. The sprawling fields were the colour of straw. The wheat had been harvested long before and the earth was white and yellow, the sky blue and powdered with dust.

We sat on the deep verandah of their thick-walled, high-roofed house while a fine mist surrounded us, sprayed from thin copper tubing installed beneath the roof.

It has been five years since I saw the Cape in spring, 14 years since I saw it in winter.

Photo: Peter van Noord

My transition from 24/7 garden design to writing and photography now frees me to travel in another season. Ironically, the only downside about writing my book is that the deadline for submission to my publishers derailed plans to travel to the (South African) West Coast with my mom to see the spring flowers around Kamieskroon, outside Nieuwoudtville, all the way to Springbok. I am in the final stretch of writing and choosing and shooting photos, and travel is impossible. As it is, our long trip at the end of the year is now truncated to one week, a flash-visit for my father's 80th birthday in conjunction with my mom's birthday, early in December. We hope to go for longer in the first quarter of next year, before the book is published and before the flurry of marketing begins. Yee ha.

For now, I have Peter's lovely photos, and snow on those far, hot, high mountains.


  1. Marie, this is amazing. Regarding the origin of Swartland (or Black land): Apparently this used to be renosterveld, and if you looked at the vegetation from a distance, specifically in summer, it seemed black. If you look at the remaining pieces of renosterveld today - including the actual Koringberg behind the town - this is true! If you visit again we must ask one of the farmers to take you there. Love from both of us, Peter & Johan

  2. Brings back lovely memories of the Cape.

  3. When I saw these photos, I thought you might be here...Oh well, good luck with the last details in your book.

  4. What fantastic photos, somewhere I'd love to visit. Thanks for sharing Marie, and Peter and Johan :)

  5. Think I need to go inland-

    Storming again in Constantia.

    So sorry to hear it's only a quick week in December but pleased there is an additional visit on the horizon! x

  6. Love seeing the shots of the same road but two seasons. Such a vast difference in the look of the landscape. Again - can't wait for the book!

  7. Brings back lovely memories of the Cape.

    ditto on that sentiment


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