Summer on the DC dikes
At last it is a glorious summer’s day. Time for one of our favourite pastimes. Our area is surrounded by rivers and lakes. The nearest town to our ‘dorpie’ is Pitt meadows. It is in a low-lying area and is surrounded by many little farms growing all kinds of berries. The municipality has an extensive flood mitigation infrastructure consisting of dikes, ditches, pump stations, and flood boxes. The town is protected from river flooding by about 60 km of dikes.
These dikes form flat, picturesque, dog-friendly trails perfect for cycling, strolling, or jogging along the Fraser River, Pitt River, and Alouette River. Especially now in the COVID-era, there is a lot of space out here. Our favourite one for a morning’s hike and a stop under some shady trees for a picnic, is the Alouette River Dike Trail.
It meanders along the slow-moving river next to sprawling blueberry and cranberry fields. On a sunny day, with the peaks of the Cascade Mountains in the background, it is a perfect setting for some landscape photography, or a subject for one of the local community centres’ educational activities for senior citizens. Today a group of them are painting a tranquil scene along the trail where there are some interesting riverside communities.
There is quite a collection of floating homes with some unique characters living aboard along a part of the trail, which I will discuss in a next episode. Today we are just walking, taking photos, enjoying the prolific birdlife, and looking for a shady picnic spot.
Community Centre organized painting classes.
View from our picnic spot.
White bench on the opposite bank.
Cascade mountains in the background.
Berry farmer’s house on the northern bank.
Early morning walk along the Alouette River.
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A cousin of mine recently commented on a Facebook post about my latest fishing trip.
The last episode was about the lion at Harties. While I was writing that, I also remembered another event where a lion took centre stage. It took place at a time when we were working at Arusha, in Tanzania. Steve was flying our King Air E-90 and I was in the right-hand seat. After we took off and set course for Hemingways at Watamu, Kenya, I could relax and check my telex messages. (No e-mail in those days).
After moving to Canada, we often get somewhat strange questions about life in ‘Africa.’ Recently, we were at a barbeque in our Port Moody neighborhood. The conversation reminded me of how foreigners see Africa and South Africa. That was when I remembered an incident one evening some years ago.
Heaven knows what airport security is going to be like post-Covid!
With the tantalizing prospect of traveling again, we had to remind ourselves about the long-lost art of exploring new and strange places other than the nearest chemist and our local supermarket.
A genius never rests peacefully, and his eyes constantly search over the pages.
I feel a little shortness of breath.
It was a long trek to get here for a barefoot Free State boy.
When people in Canada ask me where I come from, the answer is easy; Bloemfontein. Born there and raised in the Free State. A very flat part of the world and if you stand on a chair you can see quite far. Now I am among these steep hills, a long way away from the Free State, revisiting a part of the long road I have traveled from Bloemfontein to Bargème.
Kobus recalls his Christmas memories of days spent on the family farm in the Free State…”The smaller cousins took off, playing with their gifts and the adults sat back in their chairs. The heavy meal tugging on their eyelids. I sat on the floor in front of Ouma’s chair and looked at our Christmas tree. There were no lights on it as there was no electricity on the farm, but through the big window behind the tree’s gnarled branches, I could see countless stars blinking in the vast black African sky.”
Slypsteen’s thought process as he decides to preserve his memories of South Africa by writing a book about his beloved country.
It is the time of the year when the heat of summer is tamed, the mild days before winter sets in. The smell of leaves on the wet ground hints at early evenings in front of the fireplace. The time to enjoy our last hikes in the forest and appreciate the sound of the calm waves swishing on the beach before the arrival of the first winter storm.
22nd of September. Officially the first day of Fall, (known as Autumn in the Vrystaat), in the northern hemisphere. Friends and family in the prairies and the eastern part of Canada as well as northern Europe, are talking about snow and are making preparations for winter. Here on the west coast of BC things are a bit different.
Kobus de Villiers is a retired aeronautical engineer. He grew up in the Free State. After serving in the Bush War, he lived, worked, and studied in several countries around the world. He still does some consulting and builds contraptions in his workshop. He lives with his French wife in Vancouver, Canada. He shares his stories and photos with Howzit on this blog, aptly called “Slypsteen”
Kobus’ books can be ordered on Amazon.
In South Africa, you can find his books through Malherbe Uitgewers.