This is an unusual scenery in Malaza. We don't have any river where to row, just a canal and rivulets... and ricefields.
Once, in a while when the ricefields get flooded after heavy rains, one can see one or two pirogues browsing the ricefields... Not more since it's not commonly neither widely used in the area. Obviously something impossible to do except when ricefields are flooded, enough water and depth to "navigate" on it... :-)
I remember having some ride to reach the other bank (Lazaina side) when the road is cut because flooded. It used to amaze me as a kid. I was reminiscing my holidays in Ambila-Lemaitso, along Canal des Pangalanes (Lakandranon' Ampanalana) when with Marie, our housemaid since 1980, I tried to row a pirogue in the Canal, just to have the experience of rowing. We wanted to do it ourselves, without the help of the piroguier, without the parents, without the adults, just the two of us.. for some minutes. I took the stick, dropped it in the water, leaning on it to move the pirogue. It moved for some distance but not further. We got to realize why... Of couse, we hadn't seen that the pirogue was tied to the bank... hihi.. goofy us! We didn't want to untie it.. that should be stealing. So, we gave up.
After I had snapped this picture, I showed it to Marie and we were reminiscing, renewing the account of our "adventure" that occured twenty years ago. One of our many good memories together...
Once you pay attention to the surroundings, you'll distinguish the many varieties of butterflies in my area. Just by memory, I recall having seen at least ten species.
My favourite is this white-spotted black butterfly. This one is the only of its species that I've ever seen in my life. When I first saw it in the garden, I was so excited by its elegance, like a lady with a black velvet robe. It loves to sunbath or sleep on shrubs or flowers within a certain perimeter. It doesn't venture anywhere else.
The biggest is our yellow-black lolom-boasary (orange butterfly). It is the most common too. Strangely enough, with a greeny white butterfly that I've never managed to take a picture of with spread wings, it is the most fleeing butterfly I've ever seen. I had to find it hidden in dry grass to have this picture. (pic #2)
The blue butterfly is quite common too and likes to pause. A camera-friend and eye-candy. (pic#3)
The orange one is amongst the smallest I've ever seen. Its bright colour makes up with its smallness. It is very noticeable, less than the blue butterfly though. (pic#4). I think it like humidity, one reason I find many of it more often near the dikes.
With those cute critters around, it is all easy to let yourself walk for hours, just for the beauty of nature.
Last week, I was so glad I turned down an offer to go to the city center and accompany my Mum. Little I knew, that morning, that when I looked onto the plains down my house, I would be granted with a wonderful view. The heavy rain has swelled the water running in a nearby dam, which had broken. The plains got some water and frogs have fled the flooding, became more numerous in the part of the plains that was in front of my house. That part in front of my house was drier and froggies elected home there. The white birds came with the sun. They were so many to munch on froggies. I was lucky, that is an unusual scenery over the plains. :-)
This picture #1 is of the village located across my house, if one crosses the plains. It is one of the nicest around. Water does this village justice. Reflects of its buildings on the water surface make it more "pictureworthy". That day, I had the feeling that my area and a huge part of the Laniera plains were a bird sanctuary... and that I was somewhere wild.
This week, the water level went lower, the white birds have left the area with exception of some residents (a handful probably).
May is the start of what I use to name "the burning season". Not that it is hot, it is not ! It is the beginning of the cold & dry season. The season of rice has just finished: the rice cultivators had harvested end April-May. After harvest, it is time to plough other plots & sew rice grains & spread fertilizers (cow pooh, most of times). If the new springs are not transplanted to another plot of land (to let them grow bigger since a room is then left for a better development & productivity), works on ricefields are over.. till next harvest. So peasants have other activities: fishing, looking for crabs in ricefields, making bricks & tiles....
Anyway, it's nice to have some fire to warm up in cold winters. It is also customary to see fires & smokes here and there. To start baking bricks or slash burning or booting fire in forests at this time of the year is to succeed in those endeavours.
In my area, fires & smokes come from clay brick moulding & baking. For that, one need a certain amount of sand, clay. Then, the works begin by mouldering to make tiles & bricks (see front row - pic #1). Tiles & bricks are then displayed in ways to dry them (brick towers - pic#1 & #3). After some days drying, time to bake the clay bricks & tiles. Look ! They have built an oven with the "raw" products, leaving a hole where to set fire (pic#2). Turf is used on the top of the stupa-shaped oven, covering the products to bake. Serves as good fuel during the baking.
Malaza has the necessary ingredients to make bricks: space, clay, turf, sand, hay stacks to help setting the fire. It is very common to see people buying bricks in our area for the building of their houses. Each winter in Malaza has its share of lost car drivers flocking in the area, looking for where bricks are made.
To think, to boot fire to bake bricks is to build as to boot fire in forests is to destroy thousands of life...
The birds one can spot in my area. For some, the kingfisher, fodys, an easy sight... For others, you'd consider yourself lucky whenever you can see one.
Photo 2: for years, have only heard its song... the first time I could really spot it was while returning from a trek. As I passed by an eucalyptus tree, I could hear its call. Couldn't see it though. Then, as I vould believe, because I was a surprise to it, it couldn't fled away anymore... and here I was, waiting under the tree, scrutinizing the branches till I could see the bird distinctly... very happy to spot what I consider as the taotaonkafo for the first time...
Photo 1: Matoriandro, endemic Madagascar nighthawk. Found a couple in the orchard and was astonished be able to shoot that much and that close. Later, upon asking the gardenkeeper about its name (daysleeper), found out the reason.
Photo 3: one of prettiest: the soimanga (its Malagasy name)... I love the metallic shine on its feather. It is Madagascar native- but reportedly spread out through East-Africa- as it bears the scientific name of Nectarinia soimanga.
Following questions about the turquoise dragonfly in one of the albums in my hp, I come to think that a turquoise is not a common colour for a dragonfly.
In my area only, I've spotted dragonflies in turquoise, red, brown, yellow, green shades. One species has wings with one thick black stripe... very unusual.
It is such that one tends to forget how exceptional the fauna here is although one happens to admire its beauty. And you thank God for that ! Yes, to witness the beauty of the turquoise dragonfly in the middle of the fern patch, you'll have to thank the Lord... because you're lucky to have good eyes, to have some glance on the green fern & be able to distinguish the turquoise bit. Also, because you've found him alive ! lol Well, really, spotting the beutiful critters is sometimes about pure chance.
Pretty sure, I will find another species in my area one day.