SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE HAPPINESS          - 22/9/2010      <--Prev : Next-->

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September Chimanimani Pork Pie Hill Msasa trees in spring Outward Bound Course Chimanimani  

It must be a Southern Hemisphere phenomena !! Small price for standing on our heads all of our lives ... Our seasons between the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn follow the order spring, summer, winter autumn, instead of spring, summer, autumn, winter !!

You may think I am kidding but it has been a long winter in Chimanimani and now at the start of summer, the leaves on the Msasa trees are in bright brilliant autumn shades.

But instead of falling off the trees the leaves turn from their enchanting autumn shades into the brilliant emerald that comprises a Msasa Summer in Zimbabwe's Eastern highlands.

I know I often wax lyrical about Chimanimani, but this time of the year is even more spectacular than any other season. Zimbabwe generally has only two seasons, long achingly hot summers and short sharp crisp winters. However Chimanimani has the most spectacular "spring oblique fall" that culminates in ten glorious days in September The grass is now dry, varying in colour from corn to camel to khaki and against this wistful ground cover rises the incredible Msasa Mirage. The leaves are iridescent, almost surreal in a miscellany of autumnal arboreal shades. Bronze, burnt orange, ochre, russet, saffron, titian, carmine, mango .. colours that cause one to gulp in amazement at their beauty.

The leaves are so thin and virginal that the sun shines straight through them casting a luminous copper glow cross the horizon. The hillsides are a mass of breath-taking colour for several weeks until the autumn colours settle softly into that oh so familiar summer time kerry green.

This year the countryside is greener than most years because of an unusual heavy dew every night. Locals marvel at the masses of azaleas, gardenias, and the jungle of jasmine that is almost suffocating in its heady perfume. There is no shortage of bees here in the Chimanimanis, the air is heavy with the sleepy drone of thousands of happy bees. Sweet pungent honey was actually dripping down the wall in our house from a lively bee colony in the ceiling! The proteas are just fading slightly in the heat although the Gurneys Sugarbirds still pass by in the early morning dipping their slender elegant beaks into the deep protea cups.

In the distance the eerie cry of the Purple Crested Loerie echoes through the canopy of firs and wattles, although I confess he must be a little confused as they have changed his name and he could possibly be having an identity crisis.

Here is the once thriving community of Melsetter where the lifeless plantations, knee deep in rotting avocados, mangos and fruit that could be so valuable to a population in crisis. But the mountains keeps their closely guarded secrets as gold panners and diamond miners pass through furtively.

Here and there are nuances of a return to normalcy. The shops have goods in them, lodges are making preparations to tempt tourists once more. The genteel old hotel still remains a vestige of the grandeur of those halcyon days gone by.

One day soon, we pray, this will again be the mecca of the canning industry and the tourist trade, as it was, once upon a time.