Sunrise – something past five this morning. Felt a bit like Dante’s inferno.
Is the weather normal anywhere out there? It seems to be extreme all over the place. South Africa’s in the middle of a countrywide heatwave. Botswana and Zimbabwe too apparently. 40°C No problem with 45°C forecast in some places for the coming few days. It’s so hot it’s physically nauseating. Cape Town has actually just had its hottest day in a century and they’ve been battling fires on the mountains at the same time, so those poor fire fighting guys are having a rough time of it this year. People are being advised not to be out and about between eleven and one when it’s particularly roasty, and most certainly not leave children, pets, or any other living creature in parked cars – you’d think people wouldn’t do that even in the cold, but they still do. Those in the know say it will probably get worse through to Thursday next week, although I see rain predicted then, and after heat like this there could be some doozie storms or maybe some hail.
I can’t remember ever experiencing anything like this before – certainly not any sort of officially announced heatwave. In fact, if I remember correctly, the weather of my childhood was pretty nice. Each season held something special. Winter was for curling up by the fire with steaming bowls of slow cooked soup, or hot chocolate and a good book. Summer was for zooming around in water, and summer rains weren’t terrifying things. Sploshing around in puddles with a brolly was cool. These days I wouldn’t take a steel tipped brolly anywhere near a rainstorm. I only remember one really bad sudden hail storm when I was much younger, which completely turned my car into a ugly polka dotted thing, and killed not only chickens with direct hits to the head, but a couple of my mother’s prize merino sheep too. Bad or extreme weather certainly wasn’t the norm that it’s become these days. Not nice for the future if these crazy things are going to be just that.
When we lived on the Mozambican border up in Zimbabwe, we used to get the edges of their annual cyclones. Those things could be properly terrifying. The house we lived in was on terraces, with the front lawn ending at the dam’s edge, and totally surrounded by tall gum and pine trees among many others. Here’s the front bit.
There was a jetty down there (that big hole in it was made by yours truly’s delicate foot – really ladylike and attractive having yourself half disappear into a dodgy jetty while tossing a full glass of champers into the unsuspecting face coming up behind you) that a Leguan used to frequent. He also used to frequent the garden. Quite a big and nasty fellow he was, and I always bravely ran like hell whenever coming face to face with him. Never mind the sprint from the baboon one day – that was a whole new level of terror. This is the clearest pic I have of him. Never had zoom lenses then, and that was more than close enough for comfort.
Anyway, it was a truly beautiful setting to live in, although I’m pretty sure that living so close to water attracted extra lightning. Most years up there I often used to wonder if the lightning could possibly be mostly attracted to ME rather than the trees. Not fond of lightning at all, and clearly the feeling’s mutual. One tree in particular got blasted by lightning so many times one season that it clocked right out, although the dead stump attracted the gorgeous Eagle Owl who used to come and nest there every year. This is she.
It was lovely to see when her duo of surviving babies started popping (always two every year) out and sitting where you could see them. One year I spotted one of them sitting on the lawn. Thinking that I should give the little fellow a leg up to his house, I tried to pick him up, and was very quickly klouted around the head by his mother – her talons gave me a nice laceration on the top of the noggin too. Word to the wise – never pick up a fluffly wobbly baby owl. Apart from herself, a whole lot of other owls suddenly appeared in the trees right then to back her up. True story, and creepy too seeing all those owls looking right at me with murder in their eyes.
After that she trusted me not at all, so wandering around in the evening when she was active was a bit nerve-wracking. One night my friend had been around for a visit, and when it was time for her to head on home, I had to pop into my trusty old Landy and drive to the gate to lock it, because that lady owl was prepared for battle the minute we stepped out the door. Just as well we’d had a couple of glasses of wine, because just running to the cars was a bit of a gauntlet. It did make for lots of laughter though, and very fond memories. That was the coolest little car, now that I mention it, and the one thing I’m really sorry to have parted with. Old as she was – forty odd years, I never got stuck once in the mudpiles that the roads became with the rains, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact I once tootled past a tractor stuck in the mud quite nicely. You had to watch going round corners at any sort of speed though. That old girl would take them on two wheels.