Low water levels at Die Oog an eyesore

A Bulletin reader sent me a shocking photo of Bergvliet’s Die Oog which in April reached its lowest level in living memory.
Instead of a dam full of water, there is only a small patch in which a single goose is swimming while in the foreground other birds are walking on dry land which should be for waterfowl.

Worst of all is the island. In good years it is surrounded by water making it a safe nesting place for ducks and geese so their eggs are out of reach of land predators.

From the photo I thought the island looked more like a giant green birthday cake with a single candle, which turned out to be a tall graveyard tree in the background.

I asked Anne Shaw, who with husband Mark are co-chairs of Friends of Die Oog, what could be done to raise the level of water and it appears very little.

It would take hundreds of full tankers to make a significant difference for what, in drought conditions, is essentially a low priority for the Cape Town City Council. As for boring an on-site well point, it might only have seepage as its source, so it would just be circulating the water. Also there is no electricity.

There is the feeling that any water going into the dam must be dam water, that is not imported in case it contains pathogens which might adversely affect life in Die Oog.

The good news is that the decent rain last month has marginally improved the situation.

However, unless there is lots more this winter Die Oog will remain an “eyesore” rather than a sight for sore eyes and the endangered leopard frogs may not find their mates waiting eagerly for them when mating time comes around again in August.
Talking of which, there is still a poster on a lamppost in Lismore Avenue asking motorists to look out for the frogs. Isn’t it time somebody took it down?

One thing leads to another

I’m constantly amazed how one thing leads to another.

When I recently asked readers to tell me the name of the attractive red flowers peeping over the low hedge of the circular garden at the roundabout at the Steenberg end of Tokai Road, the answer led me to Professor Kristo Pienaar who through his 30 books and TV personality became “Mr Gardening in South Africa” in the 1970s and 1980.

A friend told me the plants were Kalanchoes. So wanting to know more, I hauled out Pienaar’s 1984 A to Z of Garden Flowers in South Africa and pounced on Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, a small shrub from Madagascar of about 300mm with bright green glossy leaves and “masses of small bright red flowers in winter lasting up to two months”.

Clearly an excellent choice for that roundabout garden, which I note with appreciation, has been patched up after a motorist crashed into it last month.

I loved watching Kristo Pienaar’s regular appearances in the 50/50 nature programme on TV, which he presented for six years. Such was his influence that if he suggested one evening that a certain plant should be eradicated, gardeners started the next morning to chop out the aliens.

His talents were not limited to TV. He appeared in several movies including ’n Seder val in Waterkloof and, as a presenter for Radio Good Hope, was the first to interview on air Chris Barnard after his historic heart transplant.

As well as staying abreast with new scientific literature, caring for his wild birds and listening to Pavarotti, he loved westerns/cowboy movies, old musicals and love stories, and never missed the antics of JR on Dallas.

He died 22 years ago of prostate cancer at the age of 73. However, he lives on his books like The South African What Flower is that? a weighty and wonderful 366 pages of flower identification which was revised and updated in 2003 by Professor

Gideon F Smith who co-authored the original book with Pienaar.

Bin it

I watched with astonishment recently when a woman came out of the pines at Maryland Avenue with a lilac plastic packet which she plonked on top of the bulging green bin and then returned to the forest. I hope she later intended to pick up the packet to dispose of at home. The following day there were several other plastic packets, similarly left on the bin’s lid.

Who did they think would want to push those bags, probably containing dog pooh, into the narrow congested opening of the bin?

Stop or go?

Three-way stops are popping up all over the place these days but it’s clear not every motorist knows what to do. We’ve found it quite amusing watching three motorists, or even two, arriving at their stop sign and clearly wondering what is the correct procedure. Do they yield to the motorist who is on the main road which they are intending to join? Or do they hang back and wait to get the signal from either of the other two motorists that they must proceed? What they don’t want is that all three will go forward simultaneously.

For my own benefit I checked it out. It’s actually very simple.

A three-way stop is regarded as a four-way stop but with one less stop. The same rule applies. You yield (give up) to the driver on your right by letting him or her go first.

Happily separated
Our 18-month trial separation had gone so well, we decided to make it permanent – John Cleese.