🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Full Moon wonder

“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy.”
- Henri Frederic Amiel

The full moon just holds a special fascination for me. I try to get outside with every full moon to sketch it, but this past winter has been a bit too severe for me. And then the first full moon we have in September 2011, officially Spring here in South Africa, I go and miss! This is a photograph of the full moon in July, mid-winter and freezing cold, peeping through the bare branches of my 20-year old peach tree.

While I was outside with the camera, I took a pic of one of the garden lights which looks a lot like the full moon

and also one of my garden ornaments hanging from one of my White Karee's (Rhus viminalis)

Night time in the garden is also special for me - last summer I was lucky enough to see some fireflies around my Arum lilies (Zantedeschia), they made it look like a veritable fairy-land! Unfortunately they don't photograph well, either they're too small or they switch off just as the camera flashes!

Camera : FujiFinepix 2800Zoom

This was my last sketch of a full moon as seen through my studio window at 5am on the 21st January 2011.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Aloe ferox - Nature's Ultimate Healer

The aloe seemed to ride like a ship with the oars lifted. Bright moonlight hung upon the lifted oars like water, and on the green wave glittered the dew.
- Beauchamp, Bliss and Other Stories, 'Prelude'

Last Spring I noticed that the Black Sunbirds were all visiting this Aloe (Aloe ferox, Bitter Aloe) in my garden, and the reason was soon apparent - it was fairly dripping with nectar! The flowers always seem to produce the most nectar just as they're getting to the end of their life-span. It's their special gift to nature.

This hardy plant, indigenous to South Africa, and with its succulent leaves can survive the harshest conditions. When damaged by man or animal, the plant seals off any wound with a sticky, dark liquid that prevents infestation by virus, fungus or insect. This dark liquid has been successfully used by ancient inhabitants as a traditional remedy for many ailments.

The white inner gel of the leaf has the ability to hold and store moisture through hot, dry conditions and months of drought. Traditionally the local inhabitants use it to soothe burn wounds, cuts and abrasions. Today those same qualities are still the being used in a wide range of moisturisers and rejuvenating creams and gels.

The nutrient rich leaf is filled with the goodness of the earth and contains no herbicides or pesticide making it an ideal source of nutrients and helping your body to cope with modern day living in a gentle and natural way.

The bitter aloe is most famous for its medicinal qualities. In parts of South Africa, the bitter yellow juice found just below the skin has been harvested as a renewable resource for two hundred years. The hard, black, resinous product is known as Cape aloes or aloe lump and is used mainly for its laxative properties but is also taken for arthritis.

"Schwedenbitters", which is found in many pharmacies, contains bitter aloe. The gel-like flesh from the inside of the leaves is used in cosmetic products and is reported to have wound healing properties. Interestingly Aloe ferox, along with Aloe broomii, is depicted in a rock painting which was painted over 250 years ago.

'AloeFerox.talkspot' says, "The aloe bitter is best known for its use as a laxative. However, in addition to the purgative effect the anthraquinone (bitter) substance is also an antioxidant, antiviral and effective for cancer prevention.

Numerous scientific studies on aloe gel are demonstrating its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, immune modulating and anti-tumour activities as well as anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. The aloe juice has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides while demonstrating anti-diabetic activity." Read more about the medicinal properties HERE.

The Aloe is winter-flowering and did you know that they flower in mid-summer in France, when it's Winter time here in South Africa? Isn't nature's clock just amazing...?

Camera : Fuji Finepix 2800Zoom - pic taken in my garden.


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Farm Talk - Dragonfly - Flighty, carefree!

PS : I have not been able to identify this Dragonfly as yet, so if anybody is able to help I will greatly appreciate it! ... 

This Dragonfly (Odonata) has donned her Spring finery, a bright blue, lacy little bra! Caught her getting a bit of a suntan on the rocks next to my pond last spring just before all the males arrived!

Sometimes the period, just before spring arrives, is always filled with a few hollow promises - dragonflies appear at the pond, the Peach Tree starts preparing her blossoms and then, suddenly, a cold front dispels the promise of Spring.

A close-up of the head and thorax

Menacing and marvelous, the dragonfly has for centuries captivated human imaginations with its daredevil flying maneuvers, vibrant colors and bullish disposition.

Pre-dating the dinosaur, this fascinating insect has long been the subject of chilling myths and legends. In fact, the dragonfly's terrifying syringe-like appearance earned it a laundry list of dastardly names in world-wide folklore including "Devil's Darner," "Water Witch" and "Snake Doctor."

In European and early-American myths, children were told that if they misbehaved, a dragonfly would sew shut their eyes and ears as they slept. Another myth warned that dragonflies were in cahoots with snakes and were able to wake them from the dead or warn them of impending danger. And in Swedish folklore, dragonflies were called "Blindsticka" or "Blind Stingers," and rumored to have had a penchant for picking out human eyes. The Swedes also believed that dragonflies were used by the Devil to weigh people's souls, and that, if a dragonfly swarmed around someone's head weighing his or her soul, that person could expect great injury!

Your delicate wings rapidly beat the air
The sleekness of your weightless body hovers
Curiously observing as though you care
Steadily searching for lifelong endeavors

Do you bring a message of a tranquil destiny?
Does your evolving maturity convey wisdom?
If I follow, will I find harmony or perplexity?
As you disappear… I am serenely lonesome
- Theresa Ann Moore

If you look carefully, you can see a male that has just arrived!

Camera : FujiFinepix 2800Zoom - Pics taken in my garden in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa.



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