Dargleites are seldom deterred by less than perfect weather. On a very cold, very wet evening this weekend, 90 people snuggled into the beautiful 100 year old Corrie Lynn barn to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Dargle Conservancy.
The scene for a fabulous local dinner was set at three long tables. Copies of our favourite local paper, the Meander Chronicle, were used as place mats, enamel plates and flowers freshly cut in the rain that morning, completed the picture.
Volunteers scurried to get everything set for our Celebration, to start the fires, rig up the music and place rugs on the benches.
The menu was all locally sourced and produced with many, many people contributing generously.
Cooked pumpkins were kept warm in Wonderbags until dinner time.
After huddling beside the funky fireplace made from an old boiler by Guy Sterling, everyone found a spot, often next to someone they hadn’t met before, and tucked into the starters laid out along the tables.
An astonishing array of delicious treats including duck eggs, gherkins, hummus made on Dennis the Dover Stove, handmade mozzarella, warm bread, Chicken liver pate and organic lettuce. Yum.
Nikki Brighton, Chair of the Conservancy, welcomed everyone and in particular the six other Conservancies who had travelled across the hills in the mud to support us. “We are especially delighted to have Priscilla Francis with us as it was on her verandah in Balgowan in the 1970’s that the Conservancy movement was born. The original Dargle Conservancy was formed soon afterwards by Iain Sinclair, Nick and Helen Methley. After some hitches and a period of dormancy, the current Conservancy was founded in 2003 by Barry Downard, Jennifer Willan and Andrew Nash. We are grateful for their vision and hard work as there is no doubt that the Conservancy has contributed significantly to building our community and protecting the precious eco-sysytems of which we are all privileged to be custodians.”
Next up was David Johnson who was guest speaker at the very first Dargle Conservancy meeting 10 years ago – he needed no introduction. David gave a fascinating presentation including both the rare and quite common birds found in the Midlands. “I like the things one sees everyday as you can learn so much from observing them” he said. Tales about the Bald Ibis, Cape Parrot, Starred Robin and his personal favourite, Bush Black Cap, had everyone enthralled.
To thank him, he was presented with a Dargle Dassie Adoption certificate. We thought him a suitable custodian of one of the furry members of our thriving colony. David couldn’t resist telling us how the Hyrax was one of the only SIX truly African animals – including the elephant, golden mole, elephant shrew, dugong and aardvark. Fascinating.
Barend Booysen thanked Nikki for her efforts on behalf of Dargle and read a paragraph from an inspiring Paul Hawken speech – What is means to be a human being on Earth at a time when every living system is declining. “When asked if I am pessimistic or optomistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on Earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people working to restore the earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power and the incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice and beauty in this world.”
Kevin’s chickens (cooked by Tony and himself) and Dean’s ducks cooked by Merrill, smelt delicious, so everyone tucked into their main courses with gusto.
Conversation was lively, neighbours discovered new relations, more wine was opened. A few people remarked that this was the best Dargle function they had ever been too.
The van Breemem family had a lovely time “A throughly enjoyable evening, tasty and plentiful food, an interesting talk – the whole event came together fantastically well.”
As is customary at special Dargle occasions, a few Scottish reels were called for. ‘Stripping the Willow’ proved to be heaps of fun, even for first timers and certainly warmed everyone up. “I loved dancing with people I had just met” laughed Shine.
An array of delectable deserts greeted anyone who was still had space (or had worked up a new appetite)
some guests fell asleep…
while others had earnest conversations….
or caught up with friends not seen for a while.
Some kept warm around the heaters, with coffee in hand,
or had a good giggle.
It was altogether a friendly occasion.
All in all a splendid evening with the last revellers only wandering out into the cold at midnight. A true Celebration of Dargle in the iconic red barn.
see more photos on our facebook page: dargle.kzn