Africa Burning and Nature Treasure Hunts


Mbabane Mountain Fires at Night

The arrival of winter in Swaziland has brought dry, strong winds, brown mountainsides, and the beginning of “burning,” a winter tradition of setting fire to the fields, leaves, and brush to promote regrowth, get rid of trash, and decrease crime. (It gets dark early this season, and people walking get mugged (or worse) from criminals hiding in tall grasses, so I’m told). They even burn right along side the highway, flames licking the sides of the road,  billowing smoke thick like fog.

It’s an eerie, but beautiful sight to see hills glowing orange at night, red-orange sparks flying up into the sky.  But the smoke…. oh, the smoke. It fills our house, our nose, burns our throat and eyes. If someone will teach me a real rain dance, I will happily partake. Dust and soot is on everything, and ashes blow in clumps up to doors and window screens.

Fires get out of control quickly with the whipping breeze. Amazingly, the fire trucks have no water, but rather, firefighters use what look like rubber rakes to stomp out the flames. It’s actually quite effective, but some houses in town have been burned to the ground, an understood risk this time of year.

It has become a hobby for our toddler to look for fires and point them out, and he likes to say, “look! fire! ‘moke!”  On the bright side, there is gorgeous sun that brings warm days. When the smoke subsides, we venture out to finger paint or treasure hunt in nature for shapes, patterns, colors, bugs, baby tomatoes, and camouflaged animals. And to find our shadows and wave hello.

Here’s to finding inspiration where you can, and less fires for all of us,


7 thoughts on “Africa Burning and Nature Treasure Hunts

  1. Your fire description and pictures are lovely ad exciting–just wish it were longer- I wanted to keep on reading– hoped that you were going to mention Burn Fire. Love from your very proud mother!


  2. Your description is like you were there seeing it yourself. Good job! My favorite picture is of the tomatoes. I could eat them right now they are so real. Hope the fires are gone when get there. Smoke would do my NOSE in.


    • Those little tomatoes are tasty, and Ramsay loves to hunt for them. I’m sure you’ll get to taste one during your visit in a few weeks! We can’t wait!


  3. Tracy, you made my day with beautiful flowers, shadow pictures, and, of course, baby Ramsay.
    What can I say? It’s seems a perfect way to spend this time in your life, gathering wonderful
    memories. You say it all so well. Love, Pat


  4. Oh how I wanted more, more, more. Reading your poetic writting fills my mind with creativity and adventure. How I can’t wait to see you and all of the beauty when we come. Being a pyromanic, seeing fire at night sounds so amazing. I LOVE, LOVE the photos of Ramsay paining and paint on his feet. AMAZING! really cool one of your shadow as well.


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