You’re never alone. Not in the winter season. There’s always a shadow around.
Sunrise is two hours later and sunset is two hours earlier. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s four hours less sunshine a day or four hours more no-sunshine. Whichever way you prefer.
Far more obvious to me though is the path of the sun through the sky, and you can call me a liar, but I’m not far off when I say that it sets in the north and not in the west.
It rises dead-on in the east, shines into my kitchen, skips the centre of the zenith above entirely, and heads straight for the north. In that process the shadows get no break, being stretched to the limit from dawn to dusk, and then they work overtime deep into the night because the lights are switched on early.
For me, there is something incredibly magical about winter here in South Africa. I mean hey, you can run around barefoot, in shorts and t-shirt most of the time and get a tan and hardly work up a sweat. You can make a lunch time braai and relax because the next thunderstorm is still three months away. And no, a braai is not a barbeque! That is some American grill-thingy using gas, burgers, and sausages. We use wood from our gardens to make a fire and then braai on the coals and the carnivores here eat real meat like beef and not that refined supermarket mash of dubious origin.
It’s the best time of year to see the animals in the bush because the grass has stopped growing and the foliage thins out and everyone enjoys the sunshine.
It’s the safari season.
The ancient dust of Africa is like an aphrodisiac to the soul and winter is the druggiest time. The mornings might touch freezing and early afternoons can reach +30C (+86F). Such are the extremes that await and bewitch the courageous adventurer.
Another log on the smoldering coals, an old kettle boiling the coffee and puffing away, woodsmoke, and coffee smell, you’ve come to the right address.
Unbelievably so the Lion’s Tail or Wild Dagga as it is also called here, Dagga being the local name for Marijuana, is a huge attraction for the most magnificent, colorful Sunbirds.Obviously, the flowers are intoxicating because the Sunbirds will visit every day and don’t mind that I sit a mere two meters away and watch and wonder if there is more than just a sugar attraction. But the Wild Dagga has very little if any THC and therefore is legal in most countries.
Winter in these parts of Africa is just summer in another way. It is a Longshadow serenade. Even some of the roses bloom and bees buzz around. While some deciduous trees leaf and the grass might go brown in patches from the morning frost, the sky is a bright, light blue and the clear nights bring infinity onto my doorstep. Did I hear paradise? At least until the next cold front.
South Africa what a beautiful home!
I thought of your cat whose name I didn't get But it's not important so I really won't fret Worried he's not either, I'm willing to bet Especially where previously we'd already met
Did he call me by name or show me disdain? Not at all, he spoke to me seeming perfectly sane And trusting that I was too we became friends without further ado No naming at all, what for, we both think? I know you without this common, predominantly human link
And if I let them, whoever they are they'll probably devise a number and a code like a bar and then scan me and file me and categorise me never to know me, only to show me and see me from far
I don't need your name and fit no one's frame To you I'm a cat and I don't play your game So don't belittle me with your silly names Ineffable I am and unapproachable in fame
Rise to my level and speak without words we can think to each other just like the birds Cause when I sit there and dream or look like I sleep I'm in a world you'd be breathless to peep
Nothing escapes cats. Not even while they are sleeping, because they actually never sleep. That is far too human a thing to do. They are quite un-human, especially when gracefully floating along showing off that they had already reached the next stage of evolution where defying gravity was normal.
To them these humans stalking precariously on two thin, long stick-things called legs,
– sometimes even extended to the verge of toppling by silly, long attachments to the soles of the feet, – balancing a body that to them always looked like it was ill-proportioned and on the verge of tilting or falling, – kept in balance and upright only by the odd angulation of various body parts hinged on joints like knees, hips, back and neck, – strangely without wings, which most other two legged creatures had for the very reason of poise and grace and of course for other much more important evolved activities like flying and soaring, and that would have made the world of difference in maintaining some dignity in presentation and movement,
– was probably an experiment of nature gone haywire, especially when comparing their cat-babies’ innate ability to move on all fours from the earliest age onwards to that of human babies’ lack of any perceivable abilities, which, well, as they (the cats) saw all around, took forever to get off their bum and then, oh dear, with an array of predictable and unavoidable accidents, miraculous escapes and painful crashes culminating in screams and cries and other bigger stick like variants rushing around continuously in a fluffing-flap without wings, – endangering themselves and everything else as they attempted rescue operations they were never, respectfully, designed to attempt, causing the rapid withdrawal of all but the most relaxed Garfields.
Humans, huh, somehow they survived and the sleek super-cats had to fight for survival.
Odd, very odd indeed.
(Picture credit Hannes Lochner)