Saturday, June 22, 2013

Back home

Back to green, introspective Cape Town, for a second, interrupting the story of our wide open dusty brown winter trip to the north.

This is the greenbelt on the other side of the garden fence at No. 9. That fence is now completely obscured beneath a tangled hedge of trees, shrubs and climbers, much populated by birdlife.  And on this, public side, these beautiful but exotic poplars crowd the small stream called - optimistically - the Diep River.

This is part of a wide green swathe of grass that runs down several kilometers to the Alphen Hotel (giving what we always called The Bog, the now-grand name of The Alphen Trail). It's really just a glorified dog walking area, filled with invisible heaps of dog merde, so I had to laugh when it featured quite prominently in The Times this year. I was sorry that the author of that article had not been led instead on an indigenous fynbos walk in the mountains just a little higher. This greenbelt is attractive, but stuffed with invasive or exotic plants - loquat, bugweed, morning glory, wild ginger, bamboo, pines and poplars - many of them destructive or obstructive to native plants and their wetland habitat. Sadly, it does not reflect the unique glory that is the Cape's incomparable floral kingdom.

The whole greenbelt underwent some extensive earthworks and native plant habitat restoration many years ago, but it was never maintained. Improvement projects like this, whether in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, or here in Cape Town, amount to nothing unless there is a budget for upkeep.

All of which is my way of saying that Vince is flying back to New York today, and I am very sad.

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