As Cathy Gatland noted in her post, yesterday was a holiday here in South Africa. Now known as Heritage Day, it was originally known as Dingaan's Day in honour of the battle of Blood River when the Boers and the Zulus came to blows and so many thousands died. It has gone through a few changes - from Dingaan's Day to Family Day, Day of the Covenant and finally now, Heritage Day. But more importantly, it is still viewed as a day of peace.
It also heralds the start of the 'silly season' when we get hundreds of visitors from upcountry to our lovely beaches and mountains, where the beach parties are in full swing, sun drenched bikini clad bodies soak up the sun on Clifton Fourth Beach, tanned muscular bodies play beach volleyball, surfers in Muizenberg, hikers on Table Mountain, sometimes losing their way - and of course, everyone eats too much on Christmas Day.
But the summer 'silly season' is also Fire Season. The wind blows, someone throws out a cigarette butt and, whooosh, the mountain starts burning. It's just taken some very brave firefighters five days and nights to bring the fires in Gordon's Bay and the Strand, just outside Cape Town, under control. It wiped out three houses in the process. Out of control fires are also the nightmare of the informal settlements where not just one, but usually up to 20 shack dwellings can be destroyed.
The fires also have their uses. The king protea (which is the national flower of South Africa and the official emblem of our cricket team) and all the other species of protea, need fire to germinate. This also applies to a number of indigenous flowers in the Western Cape. Whilst walking near Greyton, I came across the result of a fire. These burned out proteas were so stark against the new grasses growing nearby.