When we left Cape Town in the late morning of Friday, 05 August 2011, it was partly overcast, but it wasn’t raining. It was extremely chilly, though, and we were grateful to have the heater on in the car. Brrrr…
We had the i-pod plugged into the i-trip (technology rocks! an i-trip is a little gadget that allows songs on the i-pod to be played via your car’s radio), and were singing along lustily to our favourite South African road-trip songs, celebrating the joy of being alive, and being able to spend a long weekend in another beautiful part of our country.
Our destination was the lovely small town of Riversdale, about 260 km away from Cape Town, on the other side of Swellendam (where we had spent a couple of days in May 2010, staying at Somerset Gift Guest Farm just outside Swellendam – you can read all about it here) and Heidelberg, and in the shadow of the Sleeping Beauty mountain range. (Now doesn’t that sound utterly enchanting, hey?)
There wasn’t much traffic, and we soon reached the rolling hills of the Overberg, with vast fields of green and yellow on either side of the road, stretching all the way to the range of mountains along the northern horizon. I think the green fields may well have been wheat or lucerne (for animal feed, I guess), with the bright yellow patches being canola.
These yellow fields are extremely photogenic, particularly when contrasted against clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, or lush green fields.
Did you know, by the way, that canola is a cultivar of either rapeseed or field mustard, and that its seeds are used to produce edible oil that is suitable for consumption by humans as well as livestock? The oil is also used as biodiesel, although I don’t know how common that is locally.
And did you know that the name ‘canola’ was apparently derived from “Canadian oil, low acid” in 1978? This is because canola was bred in Canada in the early 1970s. Amazing, isn’t it? Although genetically modified (GM) is grown in many areas, particularly in North America, I am not sure whether the canola that is grown in the Swellendam area is GM. According to this website, it isn’t.
Apart from the sunshine-yellow canola fields, the orange-red flaming staffs of the aloes on the side of the road had caught my eyes. I suddenly remembered that Estie, who sometimes writes guest-blogs on Lisa’s Notes from Africa blog had recently written a post about aloes.
I promptly announced to hubby, whose attention was focused completely on the road, “I have a request for a particular photo.”
“Eh? Okay, what is it?” he asked, apprehensively. “Does that mean you want me to stop the car?”
As a rule, we don’t like to pull over at the side of the road. It’s a tricky balance to accommodate the conflicting needs of a driver on the one hand (objective: getting us to our destination safely) and a wannabe photographer and blogger on the other hand (well, I have my loyal readers to think of, after all!). Diplomacy and tact are required (not my strongest points, I admit).
“I want a photograph of flowering aloes in the foreground, with the snow-covered mountain peaks in the background,” I declared.
Sigh. Deep breath.
“OK. You tell me when you want me to stop, and I’ll stop.”
“OK.” Big smile. “I’ll pour you a cup of tea in the meantime,” I offered. “And would you like another breadroll?”
Hot tip for trigger-happy photographers: Always come prepared with a peace-offering to the driver in the form of thermos-tea with a freshly buttered and jam-covered breadroll.
As it turned out, it wasn’t as easy as we thought to get a potentially award-winning shot that could be submitted to Getaway or Go! magazine.
Firstly, the snow-covered mountains peaks were too far away to be seen clearly, what with the clouds swirling around the tops. Secondly, the aloes weren’t always in an easily accessible spot that didn’t involve climbing over a barbed wire fence and trespassing. Thirdly, there were fences and powerlines and telephone lines every-bloomin’-where. And fourthly, we had to find a place where we could pull over safely, without creating an obstruction, and then pull off safely into fast-moving traffic afterwards.
Well, the picture is not perfect, but I am pleased with it nonetheless. 🙂
Shortly afterwards, we hit a wall of rain – or rather, it hit us. Large drops pelted down on us, and our windscreen wipers wup-wupped back-and-forth frantically to whip the water off the window so we could see the road ahead.
Suddenly, the rain slowed down and stopped…. the clouds seemed to clear away…. and then a couple of kilometres later, we drove straight into another shower.
Stretches of sunshine and bouts of rain alternated for the rest of our rather chilly drive to Riversdale.