Monday, 16 January 2012


When you live in a place of temperature extremes, you tend to forget, when it’s hot, how cold it can get; and when it’s cold, how hot it can get. Like the simply stupid pain of childbirth, the memory becomes but a signpost to the reality: you know it’s wild, but until you’re right in it again, you forget just how wild it really is. To drag this metaphor out into its own extreme, I recall screaming, ‘Bring me drugs! BRING ME DRUGS YOU BASTARDS!’ in my 18th hour of ‘natural’ (har-de-fucking-har) childbirth the first time around; the second time it took me all of about 15 minutes to hiss at the expectant father, ‘I swear I will tear your face right off your skull unless you get me drugs this second, and I don’t care if you have to sell our first child to do it.’ And I meant it.

So although I’ve been waiting for the stunning (and I mean this word as it’s meant, rather than as something a 16-year-old might say about her BFF’s mad hair) heat of summer to hit, it’s still been a slight surprise that it has. And, to be perfectly honest, the catch-phrase ‘bring me drugs, bring me drugs you bastards’ applies every bit as much to the berserk things constant 40-degree-plus temperatures do to your brain as it does to the simply stupid pain of childbirth. 

And then there are the fires. 

Just as in winter, you would sell your first child for two rain-free days so you can get some winter woollies dry and not go out smelling as if your clothes have been in Fungus the Bogeyman’s waterobe for a month, in summer, you would sell your second child for the slightest hint of moisture from the iron sky. And that, thankyou unforgiving universe, is when the fires start. 

Fire season is a big deal in these parts because much of it is farmland. I can’t begin to imagine the despair you must feel after having nurtured a crop from planting through to near-fruition, only to have it decimated by fire. 

The latest one (and it won’t be the last) burnt spectacularly in the valley next-door to ours for about a week. By day 2 it had turned our valley – and ours is, not to boast or anything, a pretty vast valley, encompassing serried mountains, several towns, hundreds of farms, a huge and I mean HUGE dam, and so on – dark. As the sun rose on Monday we were coaxed out of doors by preternatural light, and I would not have been in the least surprised if space ships had landed and spat out tall people with podlike heads who demanded to be taken to our leader. Which obviously would be interesting, because where does Jacob Zuma actually live? And anyway would I be okay with taking them to him? I’d be more inclined to take them to, say, Johann, who would at least offer them a glass of something refreshing before finding out if they’re going to turn us all into sex slaves, which actually Johann might like, so that might not be the best… but I digress. 

I love how the flaming sun reflected on Jill's firepit
mosaic - it really brought it to life!
The day the sky went dark was also, coincidentally (some might even say serendipitously), a full moon. Wild, hey? Directly below is my pic of the smokey full moon through the Natal mahogany in my back garden; (taken with my phone camera because some piece of vomit stole my Olympus) below that is Dan Bush's gorgeous full moon through a tree - for more of his amazing moons shots, go here.

Everyone needs a chill-out spot. I came in from admiring the moon to find this lovely Cape toad cooling its heels (and everything else) in the dogs' water bowl. I obviously wanted to take a picture of it there, but I laughed so loudly that I scared it, and it hopped away - I snapped it as it hotfooted across the verandah.

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