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.
Dormant 4×4 vehicles of all shapes, sizes and descriptions rumble into action, get all packed up and disappear for weeks into the African yonder, somewhere far out. In distant places we sit around campfires sipping Shiraz and Famous Grouse while listening to lions roar, hyenas laugh, elephant trumpet, hippo’s snort, leopards bark and baboon’s wa-hu.
Shiraz and Famous Grouse
Idol of any cat
We heard him roar all night and finally tracked him down early in the morning. He had killed a baby elephant at night.
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.
Old kettle, fresh coffee
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.
Sunbird’s heaven, Leonotis leonurus
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!
Greater Double-collared Sunbird http://www.theflacks.co.za