When I look across to our mountain, to the clouds that come and go, sometimes I see seven steps to heaven (Miles Davis). That first step is unattainable, and even if I could reach it, insubstantial. My foot would simply pass thru the water vapour. Earth-bound my mind turns to the legendary Seven Steps in District 6. Again, insubstantial, demolished during apartheid, living on in memory and music. In my living memory, that part of Cape Town has always been a green slope below the mountain, at the far edge of the city.
|Seven Steps to Heaven|
|Pot built by mud wasp|
Our wasps build busily using paper or mud, a gift of our clay soil. This tiny little pot, big enough to tuck a small chickpea in, would once have had a lid.
|Newly applied wet mud on wasp nest|
The mud dauber works steadily. Takes her a full day to build one chamber. There are at least seven hidden by now. Each cell is filled with a few spiders. She is NOT amenable to being photographed. The end of the ‘tomb’ is carefully closed, leaving the spiders to be eaten by the wasp egg, when it hatches. She is also meticulous about camouflaging her nest with random splatters of mud, concealing the regular structure of ‘seven steps’ as each cell is completed.
|Mud dauber working on her nest|
|Mud dauber at her nest|
Sceliphron spirifex in Mike Picker’s Field Guide to Insects of South Africa.
|Each day the wasp's nest gains another layer|
|Each coil in each layer carefully smoothed off|
|At the end of her day's work the mud dauber seals the cell|
Pictures by Jurg and Diana, words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa
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