As the heat of summer starts to set in, the prospect of a walk along the leafy trail from Sillery up to Bel Ombre was an attractive one. Our intrepid leader calls this a flat walk, and I suppose in comparison to our mountain walks it is, but there was still a little huffing and puffing as we scaled a few hills. The stream is still running well and the dam near the start of the trail is full, with dogs enjoying the waters and a mass of water plants covering half of what was, just a short while ago, a dry hollow.
From time to time we crossed a road as we moved from one green belt to another, each time getting wonderful views of the mountains between Constantia Nek and Devil’s Peak, and a blue sky with a quarter moon arched overhead beyond the canopy of pine trees, where squirrels dropped cones stripped of their succulent bits as they leapt from branch to branch. We stopped for an early coffee break at a huge fallen log. An eagle-eyed member of the group spotted a movement in the shrubbery nearby and we were delighted to see a young Spotted Eagle-owl perched on a tree stump in full view, while a parent bird scuttled in the undergrowth, doubtless searching for an unwary mouse or two. Everyone inched forward to get a closer look, and the young owl gazed back unblinking and unperturbed at this strange assortment staring at him so intently.
Bird-watching done, we set off down the meadow to take a different route back to the cars, and it wasn’t long before I found I had lost the lens cap for my camera. Having done this before and forked out R300 for a new one, the solution was to jog back and do a quick search. L and M, my partners in crime and laughs, rummaged through my backpack fruitlessly, and I slung it back on without taking care to zip it and jogged back through the trees. With no luck, I jogged back to join them and carry on with the hike, the rest of the group having disappeared from sight far below.
We tracked them down about a kilometre later amid general commiserations over my carelessness and continued along the shady lanes of Constantia, admiring some lovely topiary work along the way and yearning for the water source they have below their properties. My garden looks like a desert in comparison.
It was then that I discovered I no longer had my cellphone with me – an absolute disaster as it seems that I need it to run every aspect of my life – and I knew it was somewhere between the owl and my present position. And so L, M and I set off for the cars at a cracking pace, leaving the rest behind as I wanted to drive back up as quickly as possible. Fortunately the owl had been at the roadside. Half an hour later I leapt from the car and ran down the path towards the fallen log. A patch of pink caught my eye among the pine needles – my phone! And a metre further on, my pen! And a metre further on, my face spritz, and then a pack of tissues, and then a roll of sweets! I had jogged everything out of my backpack, but quite methodically. What a hoot! And then we found the lens cap. Heaven smiled down on me today!