The storm, the zebra, and the tree

I wrote just the other day that when I leave this house I will miss not seeing the young tree that I planted grow big and strong. Two days later, it began uprooting itself in a storm.

Cape storms are not for the fainthearted. This is a coastal region so in reality they are tempests, not mere storms. They rage and rage all night long, the wind blows fiercerly and brings heavy rains, much of which blows horizontally. People don’t really believe us when we desribe this sort of weather and it’s only when someone experiences it that they realise how awful it is. British people, yes, people from Great Britain, that small island of nothing but grey lousy weather, have been known to complain bitterly about the winter weather in the Cape. It doesn’t help that our houses are not insulated so it’s often colder indoors than outdoors. Luckily these storms, which can last a few days, are not the norm for the full duration of winter, they just occur a few times between May and August.

During these not-so delightful few days, wind tunnels are created and one of these wind tunnels is right up my narrow walled-in driveway, straight into my little garden. The first thing it encounters is The Tree. Otherwise known as my pride and joy. I planted it just over two years ago and it is already a thing of splendour. A white pear, it will not be huge but will be large enough to give shade in summer. I’ve only experienced it flowering one season and it was magnificent.

So the other night, as the storm raged – yes, it was a dark and stormy night – I stood at the window watching it pour down and sideways and all over the place. I was thankful to be indoors and sheltered, unlike so many people not far from me who live in doorways or shacks that fill with water. As I stood and watched I realised The Tree was no longer upright. In fact it was most decidedly being blow forward and downwards, until it was resting on the birdbath, that item being the only thing holding it up.

My wonderful friend who lives with me suggested we Do Something to prevent it being uprooted completely. So we went outside. Now please picture the scene. I was warm and snug in the house because I was wearing a onesie. One of those lovely warm adult baby-grows that are so popular in the United States. This particular onesie has kept me warm on many cold winter nights. It is a zebra. It is loudly black and white striped, it has a tail, a hood with a zebra face complete with little pink ears and eyes.

So there we were in the howling wind and pouring rain, a zebra in slippers and a tall man wedging a garden bench and heavy slabs against a little tree. Had anyone been out in the streets, breaking curfew and braving the weather, they might have been a tad amused to see this sight. As it is, only the dogs saw us as they watched through the window.

Our makeshift repair held through the night, and the next day, yesterday, we made a more stable arrangement. It’s still only temporary and something more stable will have to be done by the next occupant of this house but at least while I am here for a few more weeks, I will see my tree standing straight and upright.

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

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Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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