Against the wind

Another windy day in Cape Town. I use the term ‘Cape Town’ to cover the metropolitan area, but there are spots which are completely wind-free, so I am not technically correct. But in the places where wind tunnels form, such as down the Fish Hoek-Noordhoek valley and from Constantia Nek down to Muizenberg, you would believe you were in two different countries. In those places, trees grow sideways as they never have a chance to grow in peace.

Some of these trees have become landmarks, but regrettably, due to insensitive tree felling with no recognition of the humour of a situation or how old the tree might be, or even just the contribution it makes to our heritage, they are fast disappearing. At the end of Boyes Drive in Lakeside, where it joins the Main Road, there is a particularly crooked tree that deserves to be preserved just for its fortitude.

A similarly stunted, almost bonsai’d in relation to its natural state, pine tree grew for years next to the road that goes to Scarborough in the most exposed part of the ridge between what used to be a quaint seaside village and Ocean View, but that too has been remorselessly hacked down, simply because it is ‘alien’. The fact that it has never had any offspring growing up around it, no doubt due to no pollination ever being possible in the teeth of the gale, should surely have served as a stay of execution. But no. Bureaucracy and its accompanying lack of initiative on the part of office bearers is ridding us of these quirks of nature.


It is true that the trees that suffer the most are tall, fast-growing aliens, and it is obvious why our natural floral kingdom consists of low shrubs and low-level branches with thick stems – they adapted quickly to the wind which must have always blown across the Peninsula since this ancient land rose from the sea bed. The landscape at Cape Point Nature Reserve must bear the closest resemblance to what the Peninsula looked like before our Australian imports.

Of course, without these fast-growing aliens, how would South Africans be able to enjoy the traditional braai? At the rate we burn wood, we would be living in a desert by now if it weren’t for these trees which are highly inflammable and make great coals for cooking! The last protea would have been chopped down years ago.

I reckon we should actually leave these isolated monuments to the aliens which contribute so splendidly to our national pastime!

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