27 February 2012

Swellendam Dams: After the Fire

11 February 2012

Location: outside Swellendam

Walkers: Helen and Ian, with the little dogs

Previous walk in this location here and here.

In Swellendam for a long weekend, visiting family. We went up to the dams for a short walk, around the top dam, to give the dogs some exercise and for me to get a closer look at the damage done by the fire that tore through here two weeks previously. I'm not sure how or where the fire started but the area that burnt is huge: from the top of the tallest peaks right down to the valleys and all around dams, through indigenous forest and plantation, and alarmingly close to my brother's home on the edge of the town.

Last time I was here the foresters were clearing some the pines, and it was interesting to see how the stumps and roots had burnt away entirely leaving 'burrows' in the earth. It looked very unstable. We stuck to the road for safely.

I know fires are meant to be part of the cycle of life and that these hillsides will recover in time, but I found this landscape made me feel so sad. It was deadly quiet and still, no birds or wildlife around, and the burnt smell lingering. It was all very depressingly grey, and it didn't help that it was a very gloomy day.

However there were already signs that the recovery process had begun. The palmiet along the edges of the dam was shooting.

Some grass was growing in the damper areas.

One or two trees had shoots.

Bracken was unfurling.

And reeds were emerging.

I was excited to see one spot of colour! A Haemanthus bud. Paintbrush lily.



Firefly the Travel Guy said...

Its wonderful how nature survives fires like this and bring back life to the area. Specially those ferns and the paint brush lily

Annalise Johnnie said...

I've read on a news that two houses were slightly damaged by the fire that Thursday (how fortunate that you're brother's house isn't one of them) - the firefighters had a hampered situation due to the hot and windy conditions - but somehow, they controlled it. Anyway, the commenter above my post is right, it's wonderful to think that life still exists in the midst of the demised forest.