When the dog barked

So much for getting back into regular posts. I’ve learned my lesson. Like last year, I had an unexpected request to work in a spot that meant a road trip. I pointed the camera at various things.Then, the morning we were to return home, a dog barked. At 4 am.


So much for getting back into regular posts.  I’ve learned my lesson:  the spirit is willing, but life happens, so I’m not making any rash promises.   Or New Year’s resolutions, for that matter.

Like last year, I had an unexpected request to work in a spot that meant a road trip and, again, The Husband happily came along for the ride.  Well, actually, he did the driving.  I pointed the camera at various things.


Notwithstanding the drought, work and taking an almost-wrong-turning, it was a pleasant and pretty trip; spectacular in places.TreeWheatFieldNov2016

A lone tree standing out against the golden stubble of harvested wheat.


The bales of hay for much-needed fodder, waiting to be collected and stacked.


There are wind farms everywhere: on every road and virtually around every bend.  I can’t make up my mind if they’re fascinating, benignly waving their arms at one, or a blight on the landscape.  The turbines are huge.  In the bottom, left photograph in the collage above, you will see a turbine blade on the ground – the portable toilet and the picnic gazebo –  give one a sense of how long it must be:  turbines can have a diameter of 40 – 90 metres.

Our destination was the seaside, mostly holiday village, of Paternoster.


The sea was brilliant;  the colours, exquisite, but the wind howled.  The apparently calm sea was very deceiving.


Then, the morning we were to return home, a dog barked.  At 4 am.  It was a very agitated bark.  Neither of us went back to sleep, so an hour later we resolved to get up, pack and hit the road.

Good thing, too, because an hour or so after we were back in McGregor, we were fighting fires.  Literally.


The Husband, Jan Boer, and a few other locals monitored the fire that was across the road from our house.  As I was taking this picture and the one below, the wind suddenly changed and the fire jumped the fence into our plot and vegetable garden.


I turned tail and ran back home and unceremoniously dumped the camera.  Friends and neighbours arrived from everywhere, including friends en route to a wedding.  They were late.

Every bucket and hole-free receptacle was dragooned into service.  Cool boxes, catering equipment and dustbins were passed from hand to hand and every available tap was used to fill them.  Our outside kitchen (about which I have not yet written…) was invaluable.  It’s amazing there wasn’t more soot all over the stoep floor and all over the house.


Our two hosepipes were already in use, dousing the flames across the road.  An hour and a half later (which felt like a day) after it jumped the road, the fire was under control, the fire service was on the scene, and the camera was retrieved from the tree under which it had been deposited.

The hosepipes came back blistered and burnt.  Small price.

And the aftermath:  incinerated telephone lines, charred, smoked vegetables (a new trend?) and homes unscathed.  Mercifully.  Dust and moonscapes.


Within a week, even though there was no rain, the reeds in the vlei across the road, were sprouting.


Thanks to that barking dog, we were home to fight that fire.  So began the festive season for us, and it was gone in a flash.

17 thoughts on “When the dog barked”

  1. Wow….you were lucky to get home in time and lucky to have good neighbours it could have so easily been much worse although it sounds horrific enough to me. I am glad that you all stayed safe 🙂

    1. Indeed it could have been so much worse. Actually, there have been terrible fires in and around the Western Cape, and where people have lost everything, so we are very grateful to have some off so lightly. Thanks, Carol

  2. Neighbors helping neighbors… That is the key. I have a female ancestor who married a missionary and moved to Africa. Her husband was helping his friend save his crop from a rhinoceros, but that did not turn out so well. He fell on his spear and died before they could get help.

    1. Yes, it is. Important in any community – neighbours. Quite a story about that rhino. Africa, in those days, was not for sissies! That said, farmers now, would not be chasing that rhino away. The poaching problem has got so bad and the population so small.

  3. What a story Fiona! Thank you. We were horrified to hear (from afar) of your near thing and so pleased that the outcome was so much less horrific than it might have been. Thank goodness for that dog!
    Steve Murphy x

    1. Indeed! It was quite strange, actually. I also had something I had to do for that evening, but all morning, and after the dog had woken us, something kept on telling me that we needed to get home. It’s a lovely old boxer if I remember correctly. Don’t recall if we were told his name. Deserves a cuddle, not just a pat!

Let me know what you think....