April in Clarens and the Eastern Free State is definitely the prettiest month of the year. The author gives their impressions of this lovely, chaotic kaleidoscope of colours that only occurs during April.
When I have seen the trio of Eastern Free-State autumn colours – the sandstone mountains, flaming poplars and the fields of cosmos – then winter can start. And sometimes, while travelling between Kestell and Harismith, or Golden Gate and Clarens, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the finest and short lived of the three: The Cosmos. A photographer friend of mine claims that the cosmos is the most photographed flower in the world. And I totally understand that! There is something so tender and touching about the beauty of this flower, that one would like to preserve it forever, be it in a photo, a water colour, a poem…
Maybe we would like to store this short flood of life so much, because, according to folklore told by generations, it came into the country via a war. The seed mixed in with bags of horse fodder, imported from Argentina, during the Anglo Boer War. Maybe it is asking for a national Cosmos Day, similar to Poppy Day? There is definitely something transcendent about this care free flower – Spanish priests in Mexico(the country where this flower originated) sowed it in their gardens and named the flower “Cosmos” The evenly spread petals were their inspiration for the word “cosmos” – “harmony ” or “orderly”. Other sources claim that the flowers name came from other meanings of the word “cosmos” in Greek, particularly ‘ornament”, obviously because it is such a pretty flower, while in South America (and some in South Africa) regarded as a weed.
Perhaps this “long-stalked” flower, that breaks through the earths’ crust where the soil is most barren, force us to feverishly grab camera or paintbrush, because we know it will be gone with the first frost? Any which way, the cosmos, family of the similarly beautiful, sunflower, daisy and aster, still manage to divert us from our routes and routines, that makes us stop by roadside, get out, breathe, and look… thus sowing in its’ own way a bit of necessary chaos, true? A lovely chaos, just a moment before winter arrives.
The occurrence of the “cosmos” fairy tale is really something out of the ordinary and truly worth making the effort to see.