I’ve dipped into Robert Macfarlanes books and enjoyed his writing about paths and have joined him in his delight about where they go, what you can see on them, how they open up new places to you. (The Old Ways, A Journey on Foot, by Robert Macfarlane). I was inspired to open up a path in our garden so we can enjoy it all year round. In the rainy season the grass grows over our heads and if it’s left long, we can’t access much of our garden for 6 months. A common practice here is to cut all the grass, or spray it so it dies, but I’ve gone for a compromise – I get a path cut through the grass so we can enjoy walking around otherwise inaccessible areas, but the areas either side of the path are left long and are full of beautiful grasses, wild flowers which are host to an amazing number of insects and butterflies. Any time of the day this path is lovely, but we often walk it towards sunset as the work day is ending and before the equatorial early sunset.
We usually go out by the back door, leaving behind us our lovely bungalow which is one of the staff houses here at TCNN. The first part of the path is a very friendly part – it’s a well trodden route between our house and our lovely neighbours. There’s lots of traffic to and fro as we greet, swop recipes and ingredients, visit for meals or games nights.
There are no fences here, the boundaries are marked by large stones which reminds me of Proverbs 22:28 “Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by previous generations.” We fenced off a small area to grow vegetables in and the new path runs alongside it up to the back of our property. On the way we can see our field of maize on the left, and some beautiful wild flowers in our neighbours garden on the right. The bottlebrush tree flowers down at eye level – beautiful flowers that Russell has been known to mistakenly call “toilet brush” flowers, not such a poetic name for such beautiful flowers!
At the back the boundary is marked by steep rocks which are inaccessible now due to the long grass in the rains, but when we cut it and store it for animal bedding in the dry season we can clamber up for lovely walks on the rocks. Lowenna and her friends also like to eat breakfast up there in the sunrise, bringing half a watermelon each and a spoon! This part of the path is where farm meets wilderness, and the ridge on the right is one we put in to slow the water that rushes off the steep rocks in the rains and washes the soil away.
Further along the back the rocks form part of the path and you often see geckos scrambling about. It’s a good spot to enjoy the chickens too. There’s food for all here – the leaves on the right are important dry season fodder for our goats, and the creepers produce fantastic wild melons with ferocious spikes that we enjoy eating in a fruit salad.
As the path turns there are lush green grasses and wild flowers – This used to be a depressed area where broken asbestos was dumped. We filled it in and it’s lovely to see nature taking over again. There is a tree stump under a flame tree where you can sit and enjoy the chickens who are so entertaining.
The path then follows between our 2 water tanks – not the prettiest part of the walk but these tanks are vital to us particularly in dry season when water can be scarce. Our predecessors installed the large black tank and gifted it to us – it holds 5,000 litres and since the city supply is erratic we are blessed to be able to store it when it comes to tide us through the dry times. Now we’re back at the other side at the house, a place we love to sit and eat lunch on days when there’s a cool breeze under the mango trees.
Around the garage we come to what we sometimes call “the woods” – 2 rows of big trees, camels foot, mango and jacaranda, good for shade and fodder for our goats in the dry season. Lowenna has her favourite tree – the branches separate low which means she and her friends can sit there for ours watching the world going by.
At this point our path runs parallel to the public path that is the boundary between our garden and our neighbours. The families that live behind us in staff houses over the rocks often use this path to get to work or to fetch water in the dry season, clambering over the rocks with buckets on their heads. Some people turning left at the end of the public path cut the corner through our garden.
At the front of our garden we turn back up the drive and enjoy the beautiful senna flowers bright yellow against the blue sky.
The goats graze on the front and we enjoy unusual flowers like this aloe vera in bloom.
Around the side of the house we are back where we started and are often tempted to go round again!
What I can’t convey in words and pictures are the sounds – the coos, shrieks and twitters of many varities of birds, the buzz and humm of the many insects that live in the grass. Also the smells, the flowers, the herbs, like my basil bush which is as tall as me!
It’s not a long walk, it need only take a few minutes to complete, but there is so much to see that we like to take it slowly and enjoy the nature we see on the way – the incredible variety of wild flowers, insects, birds. Our new path has opened up much of the garden that we never could see or use in the rainy season and we are so blessed by it.