Word goes between the South African students that when the fragrant Jacaranda trees bloom in Pretoria it is time to start studying for the end of year exams…
They are in flower nowadays and this week we happened to drive along some pretty dressed up streets in Pretoria.
The Fragrant Jacaranda Trees of Pretoria – and their bitter-sweet story
The fragrant Jacaranda trees with their purple – blue flowers (they can bloom white buds too) are not indigenous to South Africa, but were imported from South America (namely Argentina and Brazil) around 1880.
Jacaranda means fragrant in the Tupi–Guarani dialect of South America. The Tupi–Guarani were the very first tribe to come in contact with the Europeans who joined Christopher Columbus in his travels. Sadly, the European ways imposed on them and probably the Jesuit invasion that followed forced hundreds of Guarani men, women and children to commit suicide. The Tupi are the Indian peoples living in the valleys of Brazilian rivers, especially the Amazon.
And a pawpaw for Halloween
The Fragrant Jacaranda Trees of Pretoria is my contribution to Becky’s incredible October Squares #KindaSquare blog feature. Do have a look 🙂
Enjoy reading this kinda pink, humorous poetry just like a puppy’s tongue. I do hope it will please most dog and nature lovers too, as it is accompanied by square photos of pink roses we are lucky to enjoy in our garden.
“I hear children laughing in the yard today,
I hear puppy barking, I hear a horse’s neigh.
The chickens are peeping, “all is good!
“It’s a birthday party; we’ll get bits of food.”
And puppy’s tail wiggles;
He sees IT… It is loose!
It’s oval, it bounces, it floats away,
It’s pink like his tongue, it wants to play!”
“I’m coming!” barks pup and off he goes.
Down the hill the pink shape flows
And puppy follows suit. It’s just within his reach,
Just above his nose.
As pink as a rose, yet as light as snow,
While puppy’s paws drum on the ground below.
Floating shape and furry dog, they’re one with the day,
It’s summer, I hear a donkey bray, “let’s play!”
“I’ll catch you! Just wait!”
And puppy jumps once more.
“Whoosh!” blew the wind, just as pup’s mouth came near,
And up flew the pink ball, as fast as a spear.
While puppy lands with a loud “splash”
Right in the pond, in the green, slimy marsh.”
“A drippy, green form comes out.
Where is pup?
The green form just drips, his ears lay low,
He stands on his feet, yet his heart sinks below…
The green form sighs twice, then looks up at the sky
Where the pink balloon flies away, its tail saying “bye-bye.”
And puppy whimpers.
And sneezes, once.
The children still play, up on the hill, all the way up.
How will he climb all the way back? He’s but a pup.
It took almost eighteen years for our kinda pink, kinda magenta, yet (almost) always sunny Bougainvillea to grow from a small plant till it covered an area of approximately nine square meters.
I guess growing a bougainvillea flower (called bracts) is a matter of faith, although it is a drought-tolerant vine. For at least five or seven years after plating it, the bougainvillea was just a brown stick with leaves. But we hoped, forgotten about it, then hoped some more.
Until the first flowers bloomed. Each year more, its branches stretching over the fence, towards the sky, lavishly, luminous pink when they open, then turning magenta and fiery red as they mature.
And these days in our yard it even kinda snows with pink bougainvillea flowers 🙂
Bougainvillea originate from tropical South and Central America (native of coastal Brazil), where they are called paper flowers. And the famous purple Jacaranda trees Pretoria is famous for also originate from South America.
The bougainvillea was first noticed in 1768 in Rio de Janeiro by French naturalist Dr. Philibert Commercon. He named it thus after his good friend and ship’s admiral Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, who commanded the ship La Boudeuse that sailed around the world from 1766 to 1769.
But only in early 19th century did bougainvillea landed in Europe, and from there it sailed to Australia and South Africa.
Did you know that color pink is named after a flower of the same name? A tiny flower with five, fringed petals.
Kinda Pink and Sunny Bougainvillea, is a contribution to Becky’s incredible October Squares #KindaSquare blog feature. Do have a look 🙂
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We picture ourselves following a sinuous track, using various means of transport. Some travel as solitary cyclists, others prefer the train, with friends and family alongside. Few journey by foot. Most of us accustomed to accept fellow travelers as partners or companions in our journey.
We travel wrapped up in an image of ourselves; we carry with us experiences and memories as luggage. Some light, some overwhelming. Dull or brightly colored.
But maybe we should see ourselves as places, locations, as fixed points on a chart. Infinitely stable. Each a world of its own. Mine and yours, then ours; his or hers. Joined by roads on which dreams, plans and worries travel from one such universe to the next. While we exchange impressions about our experiences in an attempt to understand others, but mostly to understand ourselves.
What if life, as a journey, is about figuring out ourselves?
Life as a Journey, our imagination kindled, as a contribution to Becky’s October Squares #KindaSquare
Almost 600 years old, these wooden doors of a medieval chapel, long sunken they say, built around 1453 near Snagov Monastery, 40 km northward from Bucharest, can still be admired in the Art Museum of Bucharest.
For the weary traveler, approaching the chapel as a meditation, its wooden doors with their visual and scripting messages would have been the first welcoming sign: arms folded in prayer, ready to open, to receive, and to fold around, in absolution.
Vlad Țepeș (Vlad III or Vlad Dracula) too improved the monastery and he would have come here to pray, for his people, for Wallachia, for good fortune in fighting the Turks.
And perhaps Vlad Țepeș came here to pray for enlightenment and forgiveness too.
Will he forgive the double crime?
It is said that a storm pulled the chapel from the ground and threw it in the lake nearby, where it sank. Its doors floated on the waters to the nearby hamlet of Turbați (today Siliștea Snagovului). The nuns from the convent here rescued, dried and kept the carved, kingly doors safe. The hamlet was aptly named Turbați, Rabies, for the nuns were skilled in curing rabies.
On a Monastery Built for Peace and on Medieval Plots and Revenge
You see, in 1447, while Sultan Murad II had young Vlad III and his brother Radu in captivity, their father Vlad II (Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Dragon), ruler of Wallachia, had to balance his crusader oath and his his pledge of neutrality to the sultan. To honor and protect Christianity. Or to keep his two younger sons alive.
John Hunyadi, leading Hungarian military figure, wishing his puppet, Vladislav II, on the throne of Wallachia, invades it. So the local boyars (noblemen) revolt against Vlad II. Caught between the three forces Vlad II is captured and killed by Vladislav while his oldest son Mircea is tortured by boyars and burried alive.
So Vladislav II now rules Wallachia. And in 1453 he build the chapel of Snagov Monastery with these wooden sculpted doors.
Come 1456, Vlad Țepeș defeats Vladislav II in a hand-to-hand combat. Fair and square.
Thus Vlad Țepeș second reign of Wallachia had begun.
Finally, the Chapel Door and its Three Panels Carved in Wood
The carved wooden doors are meant to depict the Feast of the Annunciation, Bunavestire.
The top panel: Angel Gabriel (on the left side) and Virgin Mary (on the right side, praying).
Do you see the vase with flowers? One of them should be a white lily, believed to be the first flower cultivated by humans, associated with purity and, Christianity, the Blessed Virgin.
The median panel depicts saints: Saint Basil the Great (Vasile cel Mare), Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (Grigorie din Nazianz), Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (Ioan Gură de Aur) and Saint Nicholas (SfântulNicolae).
The lower panel: we see Saint George, Sfantul Mare Mucenic Gheorghe, on his horse, slaying the dragon with his spear, a symbol of Christian faith, at any cost.
The inscription is a prayer in Slavonic, for hospitality that each weary traveler shall find in this place of worship.
Since we are at Snagov, you might like to know tat in 1475, the year before he was killed, Vlad Țepeș ordered that a defense wall be raised around Snagov Monastery, a bridge, a prison for robbers as well as a secret underwater passage that will confer a secondary exit from the island.