Spruit Reflections by Margie Rutsch December 2021

I am sitting in our garden marvelling at the lush green grass and the colourful impatiens that are brightening up a corner of our property. It seems just the other day that we were in the grips of winter and our lawn was brown and dusty. We are so used to seasons coming and going in our gardens but I’ve come to realise that our lives are filled with different seasons too.
Recently a special season in my life came to an end – my time on the FoDS committee! It’s been a wonderful ride – full of fun and laughter, hard work and just a few tears. I remember the excitement of starting something new, in partnership with Nature Conservation. We had a hope and a vision of residents enjoying nature on their doorstep – walking their dogs, watching birds build nests and seeing children running free. We planted trees on Arbour days and now many of them are standing tall, with plaques attached to help passers-by identify their species. We entered municipal competitions, with other groups who were also attempting to improve their areas, and were over the moon when we won a few monetary prizes. The bird hide, benches and notice boards are fruits of those early labours.
As I sit here, other memories come flooding in. I remember many Saturday mornings, gloves in hand and gumboots on feet, filling up yellow bags with litter – only to watch a sudden rainstorm deposit the next load of rubbish in the spruit! However, those hours of hard work were not wasted. Together, with rubbish in our hands and boots deep in mud, we plotted and planned our way forward. We came up with wonderful plans to involve folk of Doringkloof – dog walks, bird counting, moonlight meanders, snake talks, nature walks and even bat counting…..The list was endless and some ideas were a great success! Others were a monumental disaster. The one that comes to mind was a plan that we hatched to rid the spruit of a very unwelcome weed, called ‘dodder.’ Marie de la Rey, our chairperson at the time, went off and did some research. She found out on Google that dodder withers at the sight of vinegar. A few days later, armed with spray bottles of the lethal ‘poison,’ she and I set off. We sprayed and sprayed until our arms ached – to no avail. In fact, the dreaded weed seemed to thrive. Two lessons were learnt from that episode – don’t trust everything that Google tells you and let nature take its course!
I can truthfully say that it’s hard to leave. My life in Doringkloof has been wonderfully enriched by my time on the committee – but the next generation of committee members is right up there, ready to move forward and hatch more plans for the future. Now – as an ordinary member of the friend’s group – I still plan to help on ‘clean up’ Saturdays and Martin and I will still enjoy the small wonders of the spruit on our regular walks.
Go well, Penny and your team. We salute and support you.