Surprise – we are back (or never went away!). Hard to believe that today, a month ago, we set off from the source! I am sitting in a chilly Howick, trying to re-adjust to life as it was. A garage full of equipment to be unpacked and sorted. Photos to edit, dictaphone recordings to transcribe, mapping….. the list is endless.
I also realised that we never told you about our last day in Durban, which began with sunrise on the beach
An ending that seemed to sum up all the messages of the last 28 days – do not interfere with Mother Nature, she functions perfectly on her own.
I have never been in a mangrove forest, and all I knew was that the trees are adapted to live in the salt water. So I was in for an amazing lesson on the workings of nature, and how, if left without disturbance, everything works so well, a reminder of how our interference with the river has so badly turned so many things upside down. A section of the mangrove forest comprised, to the naked eye, nothing but mud, crab holes and trees, not one fallen leaf was to be seen on the mud.
We had been told to collect some dropped leaves earlier and on the instruction from our guide, we threw the leaves on the mud – and the forest mud floor became alive, as crabs appeared from the holes, to grab the leaves and rush them back into their holes quickly before their neighbours could steal them away.
They eat the leaves, and their holes aerate the soil for the trees, and by keeping the fallen leaves from building up into a thick mulch, the crabs ensure that the trees will reproduce – the seeds are cigar sized and shaped mini missiles, which drop into the mud, landing vertically, to sprout their roots and grow. This would not be possible if there was a layer of leaves lying on the ground! How perfect natures designs are, and how perfect they work – when left un-impacted.
Penny aka Mpangele