The recent cooler weather and some rain were welcomed by all of us. We keep on hoping for more rain in the forseeable future. In our area, it is widely believed that the first summer rain won’t fall before Oom Paul’s birthday (10 October). Personally, I feel about the rain as Maggie Smith does: “I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I get lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world”.
With regard to the continuing effect of the current drought, and especially the countrywide water restrictions, Llewellyn Price (Beeld, 26 September 2016) and Virginia Keppler (The Citizen, 11 October 2016) wrote that SA’s average dam levels continued to dwindle to unprecedented levels. The implication was that water levels in the country’s river systems were also decreasing rapidly. Water restrictions had now also been imposed in the Vaal, Orange and Caledon river systems. If residents in especially the metros did not reduce their water consumption, they faced the prospect of water shedding. This would entail measures to throttle the water supply system by partially closing main water outlet valves at reservoirs so that flow was restricted and reservoirs could maintain good levels. Water flow restrictors to high water consumers/users would also be installed, and water pressures in low-lying areas be reduced (where possible), as well as water supply to residential complexes, businesses and retirement villages be restricted. The drought circumstances on the whole of the African continent remained critical, with other countries such as Brazil also experiencing the worst drought in decades. According to environmental experts (National Geographic channel, 25 September 2016), 47% of the Brazilian forest, which should form a “rain cover” over this country, had already been destroyed.
As a result of a somewhat balmy winter, relatively good late rain and the already high summer temperatures, the normal pests such as moths, spiders and mosquitos have already appeared. Some of our members are also complaining about an outbreak of flies on their properties. Many of us have been sneezing or coughing because of pollen in the air, and some are experiencing unexpected bouts of flu or allergies – probably as a result of the changing seasons.
What is an allergen? According to Christa Swanepoel (Vrouekeur, 11 April 2014), it is something that triggers an allergy. When someone suffering from allergic rinitis breathes in such an allergen (like dust and pollen), the body produces allergies (and histamines) to guard against the attack, and this, in turn, causes allergic symptoms. One’s immune system attacks the allergens in one’s body and causes symptoms such as sneezing and a watery nose, especially when one wakes up in the mornings. It can also cause swelling of the mucous membranes in one’s nose, itching of the eyes and palate, and will often result in the excessive production of watery mucous that leaves one with a headache.
Natural moth–repellent mix: Instead of distinctive–smelling moth balls, use herbs to repel moths, and leave your clothes smelling sweet and fresh. Stuff old socks with herbs and tie a knot in the top to create a no-fuss herb sachet. Use equal quantities of strong-smelling dried herbs such as lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary and rose-scented pelargonium, and add some cloves and dried citrus peel. Toss in with jerseys and winter clothes. You can also fill an old sock or stocking with left-over pieces of used toilet soap to make your cupboards smell nice and fresh (SA Garden & Home, September 2016).
Our members and readers found most of the articles in our previous newsletter interesting and entertaining, but especially the travel blogs about our beautiful valley. One of our readers wrote via email on 19 September: “You seem to live in a busy little plekkie”.
The correction on the article about South Africans’ salt intake caused a stir once again. One of our members, Mike Crewe-Brown, who processes and cures meat himself, might be quite correct when saying (email, 19 September) that processed meat only containing 850mg salt per 100g, would taste bland, and that this would decrease the preservation period of cured and processed meats to a large extent.
In response to the article on the vulture fledgling season, one of our other readers, Willie Froneman, sent us a beautiful photo (taken by his wellknown bird photographer son, Albert). On 19 September, Willie wrote via email: “Yes, the Cape vulture chicks are hatching. The vulture on the rock ledge is a fully grown vulture, and a young bird is coming in to land”.