Thursday, 8 April 2021

Meeting and Greeting in The Wilds

The fifth Wednesday of March took the form of a walk, a talk and a raft of inductions in The Wilds, the almost forgotten botanical gardens nestling between Roedean and St John's schools in Houghton, only recently reclaimed by ordinary citizens after being the stomping ground of vagrants and miscreants for many years.

Graham Donet reports that 20 members and 10 visitors joined for the meeting on Fever Tree Lawn at 7am last Wednesday.

That was almost only 19 members as Paul Channon took a wrong term (yes Paul, the park is well signposted) and arrived 30 minutes late!

President Ian Widdop (far left) leading the induction meeting at The Wilds in Houghton

Four new members were inducted. They are Karen Harkema, Inga Molzen, Mimi van Deventer and Annette Volschenk. Welcome to you all and please send a reminder if we've got the spelling wrong.

An honorary member, Duffy (Widdop), also joined the early morning festivities and heralded a new day by running around and barking a lot.

President Ian with two new members, Mimi van Deventer and Annette Volschenk


Robyn Widdop with Duffy and Sarah de Lapasture

Graham reports that The Wilds is an inner city park and consists of 16 Ha of indigenous vegetation with over 8 km of stone pathways on the sides of two koppies with lovely views of the city and its suburbs.

Through the 1990s the park gained a reputation for being a highly dangerous and crime ridden area, with a number of rapes and other attacks reported. It has become increasingly popular again through the intervention of volunteers such as the artist James Delaney, who started clearing up the pathways and other areas almost single handedly.

Graham Donet and Paul Kasango at The Wilds
                                           Karen Harkema and Inga Molzen at their induction

James has contributed countless artworks to the park, most notably 67 owls nestled in the forest of yellowwood trees just below Fever Tree Lawn. These were done for Nelson Mandela Day in 2017 and it's great fun to try to count how many you can spot.

James told the club about his efforts at a meeting a few weeks ago and remains passionate about the project.

Even if the meeting was so early, Graham reports that there were many other visitors last Wednesday.

Prince Baloyi and Vusi Pedi with Paul Channon

Also present last Wednesday for early morning coffee and hot cross buns were two Interact members from Highlands North High School, Prince Baloyi and Vusi Padi, looking resplendent in their blue striped blazers and badges.

The meeting at The Wilds was followed by a training meeting on Zoom this week, presided over by Past President Carol Stier in the absence of President Ian Widdop, who is spending week in the bush with family.

Carol took members through the My Rotary landing page and explained where the important links were, how to register and find your own details and where to go to find whatever Rotary has to offer.  It was a very informative session and should help newcomers and other members to navigate the wealth of information (to the point sometimes of overload) that Rotary offers.

                    Could you answer this in 30 seconds? The answer is The Rembrandts and I'll be there for you

This was followed on Wednesday evening by a quiz against the Rotary Club of Rosebank which, needless to say, New Dawn won. Apparently it's not easy to beat Rosebank at their own game (they set the questions but largely thanks to team Donet, who got 26 out of the 40 questions correct)  we managed to do so.

My feeling was that even if there was a lot to learn out of the questions and answers, many were a bit too obscure and not enough were based on what could be considered current general knowledge. After all, how many people know what word describes the grammatical question mark followed immediately by an exclamation?! (The answer is interrobang, by the way). But my carping could be because Linda and I only managed 16 correct answers out of the 40 questions.

                    An Easter cheer from the happy kids at the Christ Church Christian Care Centre in Berea

Easter celebrations: There were kind words of thanks from both Woodside Sanctuary and the Christ Church Christian Care Centre for the donation of Easter eggs that Judy Symons collected for and delivered to both just before the Easter weekend. Thanks, Judy and to everybody who contributed.

                     Amina Frense and Judy Symons, who played the role of the Easter Bunny, at The Wilds

At both places children and others have been cooped up for over a year with their way of life changed even more profoundly than ours. During all this Pastor Mike Sunker, who runs the 5 Cees, has had a foot amputated due to poor circulation, just one of many, many challenges he and his staff face in coping with the needs of about a hundred children.

                                              Lucille Blumberg maintaining all the necessary protocols

Civid-19 update: It looks like we'll be stuck with Zoom-only meetings for the foreseeable future pending an indication if and when a third wave of infections starts. Numbers are still low, Lucille Blumberg reported, but that is probably due to very little testing over the Easter weekend. 

There's two more public holidays coming up at the end of the month and beginning of May, so that signs of an uptick could only become obvious afterwards, with many potential superseder events a possibility.

Lucille said the answer is to keep up with masking, social distancing and sanitising.

She also said the local vaccination programme is not going very far very fast and noted that many countries with far less resources than South Africa have managed to do much better than us. She also urged members to get the flu vaccine, which is now available, but may run out before too long.

A Thought for the Week: The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do. - Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)


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