googleed3ca5fea536c11e.html South African Mineral Specimens: Beautiful Time of the Year

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A Mineral specimen blog by which we want to share our mineral outings as well as our experiences in the Western Cape mountains.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Beautiful Time of the Year

About three weeks ago Pierre and I drove out to a farm, quite some distance outside of our home town, Ceres.  This year Spring came quite late, but in full splendor.   It was a beautiful, sunny day, and sheer bliss to be outside, drinking in the quietness of our tranquil surroundings.

Colorful and lovely
Intertwined petals 
This color combination in flowers is not so common.

Although we found only a few crystals, we had a most enjoyable day, and even had the privilege of seeing a Blue Crane dance with outstretched wings.  Unfortunately, by the time I had our camera ready, the dance was over!  They were quite some distance from us, so I had to zoom in the camera to photograph them.  The Blue Crane is South Africa’s national bird, and is currently on the list of vulnerable species.  Until several years ago, it featured on South Africa's 5c coin.  For that reason I often referred to these birds (especially when speaking to my children) as 'the 5-cent birds'.

The Blue Crane is South Africa's national bird.

While looking for possible crystal deposits, Pierre came across a snake, which was lying motionless on the hard ground.  It was so well camouflaged, he could easily have stepped on it!  It was a horned adder.  Fortunately for us, the soil was very hard, because these snakes often wiggle themselves down in loose, sandy ground, until they're just beneath the surface and virtually unseen, where they can lie waiting for their prey!  Pierre pinned it down with a stick, then took hold of it behind its neck to have a closer look (when he was younger, he often caught snakes as a hobby).  I was quite a distance away, so he called to me to bring the camera.  It moved its head around quite a bit - the exposed fangs moving very close to Pierre's fingers - too close for comfort!  So he put the snake down again, and restrained it with the stick until I got there, and we could take some photographs.  After a successful photo session, he released it into the field again.

Pierre pinned down the snake with a stick.
The horned adder at a safe distance.
... posing for a photograph, head twisted back towards its tail, showing its red tongue.

Many flowers grow in seemingly barren ground.
Close-by, there is lush growth.

Lovely, sunny color.

We found some crystals, and a few pockets that were nicely encased in large rocks, so we only photographed them, and did not attempt to remove any of these.  They were prettier there, in their pockets, than what they'd be as single, removed crystals.  

Some crystals looked better, just left in their pocket.

I found a small pocket with crystals that I thought were part of a cluster, but as I gently worked the soil loose around them, I saw that they were all double terminated crystals.  Although they were a good size, and with bits of manganese coating, they weren't very clear, but will still look good once we've cleaned them properly.  

A beetle is getting away from my mining spot, the one that yielded ...
... a few double terminated crystals, yet uncleaned.

Beautiful flowers grow in seemingly barren soil.
Floral beauty

Succulents growing among bits of quartz rock.

A beetle looking for a bite to eat ...

We got to a pocket where Pierre uncovered a lovely cluster with fairly big crystals, located about 30 cm beneath the ground surface.  In total we spent several hours trying to loosen it, but found it impossible.  We gently cleaned away all the (very hard!) soil, but eventually realized that they were set on solid rock, too big for us to get out.  So I guess one can say that this cluster was a big one that 'got away'.  At least we have a photograph of it, one we took before we realized that we couldn't remove it.

Pierre at the pocket that yielded a cluster on solid rock.
The cluster that 'got away' ...

We came across several strange, reddish plants, many of them growing where there didn't seem to be any plant growth possible.  They appear to be some type of succulent and some of them have seeds/flowers that remind me of toenails protruding from an octopus's tentacles ...  Some grew on dry, flat soil among other plants, others grew on hard, rocky ground, and some protruded out from rocky, vertical overhangs.  South Africa has the largest variety of indigenous wild flowers in the world, and we're privileged to see so many of them in our part of the country.

Unusual plant ...
Many grow on hard, rocky ground.
Octopus's protruding toenails?
Some grow from vertical overhangs.

We enjoyed the splendor of all the wild flowers, and there were some patches that had us wonder where to tread, because of their abundance.  Although our main aim of the outing had been to find crystals, which this time was not very rewarding, we had a full, lovely day!

Flowers in abundance!

I hope that you enjoyed our outing with us!



natureboy tom said...

Such wonderful and unusual plants. Reminds me of the outback Australia and even the deserts plants of the US. Thank you ! tpj

Pierre Joubert said...

Glad to know that you enjoyed it, Tom-Paul! Although this post is very old, it is not time-sensitive, so we hope that many more people can still enjoy it with us.

Pierre and Riana