Johannesburg newcomers often ask me about Parktown Prawns, Joburg’s most legendary insect. What do Parktown Prawns look like, people want to know. How big are they? Do Parktown Prawns really exist? The answer to the last question is a definitive yes. You can read all about Parktown Prawns on Wikipedia. Definitely check it out because it’s a particularly entertaining Wiki entry. My favorite line is: “Accordingly they [Parktown Prawns] frighten nervous persons and they may chew carpets and fabrics.” I’ve been wanting to write a Prawn post for years. Even though they are not actually indigenous to this area, Parktown Prawns have become a part of Joburg’s culture and folklore. Part cricket-on-steroids, part giant cockroach, park prehistoric monster, Parktown Prawns — much like this massive city that they have adapted to so well — are one-of-a-kind.
Which came first: the maggot or the fly? I never considered this question before moving to Johannesburg. Now that I’m here, I think about it at least once a year. Once every summer, I make the mistake of waiting too long to empty my kitchen garbage. A fly gets into the garbage can and lays eggs. A day later, there are maggots. Behold: the maggot. The sesame seed on the floor next to him gives an indication of his size. That black thing is a piece of dirt stuck to his face.
I went onto my deck this morning and found a curious insect resting on a green plastic chair. It appeared to be part beetle, part moth, part butterfly. Let’s call him a beetherfly. The beetherfly. His wings were round like a beetle’s. His body was flat like a moth’s. The way he slowly flexed his wings in and out reminded me of a butterfly.
My mother arrived yesterday for a 10-day stay in South Africa. It’s wonderful to have her here. It’s Mom’s first time in Africa and Joe and I want to make her stay as nice and comfortable as possible. Before she came we spent quite a bit of time arranging the furniture in the guest room, clearing closet space, etc. We’re very pleased with our work. Our guest room has a great view of the garden and the Melville Koppies in the background.
Melville is full of interesting houses, lived in by interesting people. I’m slowly integrating myself into the neighborhood but I haven’t had the chance to visit many other Melville homes yet. So when Chris Green, a tour operator who lives around the corner, invited us over to see his backyard jungle, I jumped at the chance. A sea of mint-scented flowers in Chris’ garden.