A Rambler’s Notes

A Rambler’s Notes

From the archives of Patsy Millin

The native Rhus aromatica bush has lovely fall colour.

There are differing opinions, as always, on the approaching winter, very cold, not so cold, much snow, not snow etc., but one of the joys is watching the way plants knuckle own to the cold.

Looking up at our Nature Reserve mountain recently, my eyes were drawn to brilliant small patches of rusty-red. Closer inspection revealed them as one of the Rhus genus, Rhus divaricata. The Rhus genus is part of the Anacardiaceae family, to which Mangoes belong. It is an easy genus to recognise anywhere, as the leaves are trifoliate, that is, three leaves growing from one spot on a stem. So whenever you see this, whether the leaves are rounded (Rhus divaricata), serrated (Rhus dentata) or long and thin (Rhus lancia, Rhus erosa) as a few examples, you will be able to remember is is a Rhus. 

The Rhus dentata is a very decorative small tree for the garden, with shiny red-brown fruit attractive to birds. Another shrub, Rhus pyroides, is also attractive to our winged and feathered friens. In fact, a visit to an indigenous nursery should yield a number of Rhus species.

Rusty leaved leaved currant (due to the grey-green to red-brown hairs beneath the leaves). It  is a decidious shrub up to three metres tall found in mountainous areas up to 2,750m.

According to Elsa Pooley’s book, Mountain Flowers, it is a good wood to use in making kieries and the dried crushed leaves are smoked to possibly cure coughts and colds. 

Peter Millen Bridge

Peter Millen Bridge

Peter and Patsy settled in Clarens during 1990. Peter is well known for his articles about birds which got published in several magazines over the years whilst Patsy often published her own delightful commentary known as A Rambler’s Note Around Clarens.

When you hike along the Scilla Walk towards Van Reenen St you will come upon a new bridge, named after Peter Millin, an enthusiastic environmentalist who were amongst the villagers who  started to map our, by now well-known, hiking trails.

With the kind permission of the Millin Family we will be posting some of their articles over the following months. The first appearing here.

More of Peter’s and Patsy’s articles appear on Di Jones’s web page, https://clarensbutterflybeds.co.za/

Patsy Millin cutting the ribbon at the opening of the new bridge with her daughters, Di Jones (left) and Penny Millen (right) looking on.

Here’s to all the fine feathers

Here’s to all the fine feathers

Another myth is that birds are the souls of humans who have reached perfection. After seven reincarnations on Earth the gods elevate one to the state of a bird, the freest creature of creation.

The hunting of birds was restricted to no more than what you need to eat. One guinea-fowl a day was the limit and no one was allowed to hunt every day either which explains why the meat was dried. It had to last for days. Also, to break the eggs of a bird classified as a terrible sin which will result in a curse of bad luck for at least seven years on the perpetrator and his family.

Fertilizing our world

Rumours abound where birds are concerned.

For instance, the word for bird in Zulu is ingonyi, while the Sesotho  and Tswana call it ngonyani. Translating directly into the English and you arrive at fattening! How do we bring bird and fat together? Apparently, people believed that migrating birds brought fertility to the land. Therefore, a bird is called a fertilizer/fattener of the earth. Something not to be lost. 

Several tribes, like the Batswana and the Ba-Pedi guarded their birds zealously. For instance, it was forbidden to fell a mosu tree (umbrella thorn/Acacia torti/is) because these are the trees upon whose branches migratory birds rest. Time and again, these tribes would press upon its people that if you kill a tree, you kill a bird. In Setswana they say, setklara seswala kinyona, and in Zulu ummuthi uzalwanyone both of which mean the tree is given birth to by the bird.  Where did this come from? They saw that when birds from far away rest on the branches of the bigger trees, eventually strange trees will be growing at the feet of these trees from seeds excreted by the migratory birds. The Bakgatla tribes have a proverb that says if you shave the great earth mother’s green hair she will loose her feathered lice, meaning, if you destroy the trees, birds will no longer come to bring fertility.

From the archives of Peter Millen



Our first Parkrun drew in the crowds!

The Parkrun craze took hold of us as well. The first Parkrun in Clarens was held on 30 March, 2019. Runners were let loose at 08:00. Many followed at a slower pace. It is about fun. It is about starting our day well.

Bruce Fordyce explains how Parkrun came about

Parkrun was founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt on 2 October 2004 at Bushy Park in London, England. … In 2004, Sinton-Hewitt was unable to run due to an injury.

He founded Parkrun because he wanted to continue to spend time with his running friends.The first ever event was in Bushy park, Teddington, UK, where 13 intrepid parkrunners got together on 2 October 2004. 

It took nearly two years before Parkrun spread beyond Bushy. Wimbledon was the chosen venue. Now many hundreds of thousands of parkrunners are processed, websites updated and millions of emails sent each week. 

The parkrun community is growing all the time – but it’s all still based on the simple, basic principles formed from the start: weekly, free, 5k, for everyone, forever.

See you next week!

Die Clarens Parkrun begin op Saterdag, 30 Maart

In lyn met ‘n landwye en ook wêreldwye tendens om ‘n gesonde leefstyl te bevorder, gaan die Oos-Vrystaatse dorpie, Clarens, ook nou weekliks die ‘parkrun‘ aanbied. Die eerste Clarens-parkrun vind plaas op Saterdag 30 Maart om 08:00. Bruce Fordyce, Mr. Parkrun in Suid-Afrika gaan die eerste Clarens-parkrun open.

Die 5km parkdraf in Clarens gaan begin en eindig in Kerkstraat, by die Bibliophile boekwinkel, en net ‘n kort afstand vanaf die dorpsvierkant. Die roete lê hoofsaaklik in die Clarens-Natuurreservaat en op voetpaaie langs die spruite wat deur die dorpie vloei. 

Die ‘parkrun’ se organiseerders het met die CVC saamgewerk om ‘n roete te skep wat aan die ‘parkrun’ se vereistes voldoen en tegelykertyd ook skilderagtige natuurskoon bied. Nuwe bruggies is oor die spruite gebou, wat aan die deelnemers ‘n besondere ervaring gaan gee.

Die roete gaan oor die wal van die Clarens-dam, en kronkel aan die voetheuwels van die Rooiberge, wat ’n pragtige uitsig oor die Klein Caledon-vallei bied.

‘n Verdere aantrekkingskrag van die Clarens-parkrun is natuurlik die groot verskeidenheid gesellige restaurante waar deelnemers na die stap of draf iets kan gaan eet of drink. Hier is ook genoeg gastehuise om deelnemers wat van ver kom te akkomodeer vir die naweek. 

Die Clarens-parkrun gaan ‘n unieke kombinasie van gesonde oefening en pragtige natuurskoon bied. Deelname is gratis. Atlete moet wel op die parkdraf se webblad registreer, die strepieskode uitdruk, en daarmee opdaag by die wegspringplek in Kerkstraat.