A Festive Kaleidoscope….

¨…Fancy festivals of fleeting flowers flash their faces
Gatherings gallop through the gleeful and grateful families
Homes harvest happiness and honor their gifted season
Interesting intricate images ignite passion and peace
Jovial jumping jesters to the jolly young and old
Kaleidoscope kitchens with knowledge of food nectar
Loving laughter and lace languages speak of care
Moonlight highlights the mistress of midnight dances
Nature nurtures with noble wisdom of enchanting weather…¨ – Chantelle Ann Cooke

It is that time of the year again!!! Festivities are the key element across the globe. All of us at Deception Valley Lodge are thrilled to share the joy of the holidays with you, even if we may be thousands of kilometers apart. By sharing each another´s love, happiness, and peace we can spread it across the entire universe. Come and join us!

During Christmas and New Year celebrations, one is always expected to see colourful lights emitting the excitement of a small child. The Kalahari, however, emits excitement in its own colourful way. We have a truly unique Kaleidoscope of colour and life at the moment. The trees, insects, birds and mammals all contribute on a feast to the eye.

At the moment, one of the Trees, known as the Sickle Bush (Dichrostachys cinerea), serves as a natural Christmas Tree. The delicate, green leaves are the background to the most exquisite two-coloured flowers. Some, say it reminds them of Chinese Lanterns, and guess what! It is known among some as the KALAHARI CHRISTMAS TREE!!! The pleasant-smelling fluffy, flowers are lilac in the upper half and yellow in the lower part. Dichrostachys cinerea is a nitrogen-fixing legume, and therefore has a positive effect on the nitrogen content of the soil. It has the ability to colonize disturbed veld quickly and curbs erosion. The pods are very nutritious to animals and are eaten by stock and game.

The Sickle Bush sometimes forms impenetrable thickets and becomes a problem plant for veld managers. It was introduced to the West Indies during the 19th century, where it has invaded range lands and caused significant economic losses in agricultural production. There are numerous uses for this beautiful tree. They make impressive bonsai specimens. The hard and durable wood is also termite resistant, making it ideal for fence posts. It is also used to make tool handles, milk pots, smoking jars, and in South Africa, it is favoured as a high quality firewood, used for a ¨Braai¨, better known as a Barbeque. The roots are used as a local anaesthetic for ailments such as snake bites, scorpion stings and toothache. In Botswana, parts of the tree are used as a tapeworm cure. Definitely one amazingly useful Christmas Tree!!

Then, there are the breathtaking butterflies. When they flutter, exposing their bright colours, they seem like colour-changing lights, flickering to a lullaby of the Monotonous Lark and Namaquan Dove. The Southern Skies are full of butterflies flying steadily in a Northern direction, as the annual migration of the Brown-veined White Butterfly (Belenois aurota) hits especially the Central, Northern, and North-eastern parts of Southern Africa. Depending on climatic conditions like rain, drought, etc. their numbers differ each year. They originate in the arid regions of the Karoo and Kalahari. These populations owe their strength to the main food plant of the caterpillars, the Shepard´s Tree (Boscia albitrunca). The core populations are maintained by the females laying eggs on the Shepard´s Tree before they move off to migrate. The mass of white butterflies probably plays a very important role in pollination, but this is still poorly understood. In fact, there is much that we still do not know about this widespread butterfly. Following them and preying on them, are among the brightly coloured Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, as well as many Dragonflies out for a quick attack on a slow moving and low-flying butterfly.

Another butterfly that is like sunshine on Christmas morning, is the Yellow Pansy. The Yellow Pansy (Junonia hierta) is an African and Asian butterfly. It likes open,arid areas, savannas and forests. When it lands on the ground, the Yellow Pansy keeps it wings flat, instead of vertical. Hence the name, it looks like the pansy flower.

Then off course, the main decorations of the Kalahari Canvas….the mammal species. Our guests have been so privileged experiencing all the small bursts of colour, together with the larger elements. Against greenery, orange sunsets, dark clouds with silver linings and rainbows reminding you of a Candy Factory, mammal species like the marvelous Giraffes, Zebras and superior Gemsbok/Oryx have completed the most exquisite of any artwork.

One evening, coming back from a rather long game drive, Knowledge, our guide, had a spectacular find. Our signature animal specie, the rare and ever to shy Brown Hyena!! That was definitely an early Christmas Gift. The complex markings on Giraffes and Zebras, which not only identifies each individual, are believed to serve as a form of camouflage, in that they break up the outline of the body of the animal, making it harder for predators to focus on. Zebras and Giraffes have collective names that are unique to their markings. A number of zebras are known as a Dazzle of Zebra, and Giraffes, a Kaleidoscope. Giraffes have other collective names as well, but since we are on the subject of colour and shapes, kaleidoscope is the most appropriate.

On this note we come to the end of a decade and another newsletter. As we gaze up to the clearest of night skies, we think back on all the amazing things that we have accomplished throughout the year. Deception Valley Lodge has been truly blessed with all the amazing sights, improvements and off course the most important…..YOU as guest. Many friends were made, and some have become part of the Deception Family. Therefore, all of us here, both humans and animals would like to wish you a blessed Festive Season and a prosperous New Year. Huge excitement is awaiting us in the new year, as the renovations will be completed in the first three months of 2020. A new look, with the old charm of the intense history of both the lodge and the Kalahari Bushmen will be created. Updates will be posted on the newsletter and on Facebook. Now to enjoy a marvelous Christmas Eve Dinner prepared by our chef Emily Le Roux.

Make this Festive Season your own Colourful Kaleidoscope and create an artwork that will be forever remembered!

Chat again in 2020!!!

Janie Swart