Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Of Pelicans and Potatoes

I don't usually feel like I'm living in a foreign land. The little part of South Africa where we live has integrated into my personal landscape and feels like home. There are no lions or giraffes in our back yard to declaim that this is Africa with a capital A, nor even any baboons in our sandy hills, to raid the house every time we leave a window open.

Just last week though, every morning as I drove down the 3km dirt road to take the children to school, we have been treated to a pelican fly-past. Pelicans still manage to seem exotic to me - their disproportionately huge beak and ungainly body in flight seems like an illustration from a children's book, their huge wings flapping solemnly out of an Animal Planet documentary. And here they were every morning at the end of our road. One of our neighbours has a dam that for the first time in years is brimful with the winter rain and the pelicans have been spending their spring break there. Then just as suddenly they were gone.

One thing that has been more English than African this winter has been the weather and we have even been talking about the weather just as much as the English are supposed to. We've been used to winters spent tut-tutting about the lack of rain, dire statistics about the dams being half empty, warnings of summer drought, all the while enjoying the clear winter sunshine. So a real winter with proper rain that goes on and on with a few sunny days scattered in between, dams 100% full for the first time in many years, we don't quite know what to do with.

One thing I thought for sure, the farmers will be happy. But no! Doing my weekly shop today, I saw that the price of potatoes had gone up yet again, a 10kg sack now costs almost double what it did a month ago. In horror I asked the fruit and veg manager when they would be back to a normal price again. There's a national shortage of potatoes, he told me. The weather has been too cold and wet, the farmers are struggling with all the vegetables, onions too.

On Monday it looked like spring was finally here to stay. It was so warm that the girls insisted that they wanted to go swimming. However much I told them that the water would still be freezing, they were not convinced. So to keep them quiet I took them down to the pool to see for themselves, sure that they'd put a toe in and leap out again in horror. They then spent fifteen minutes happily frolicking in 16C / 60F chilly, chilly water, while I photographed the carpet of daisies that is lush after all this rain, and I had to drag them out protesting, in mean, mother mode, fearing that they'd catch something old-fashioned like an inflammation of the lungs.

The next day we were back to lighting fires and filling hot water bottles as yet another cold front passed overhead. I'm sorry Melbourne but we seem to have got your share of winter rain as well as ours this year, I wish we could send you the overflow.

1 comment:

  1. My girls swam in a 19°C pool today and I thought that was bad. As you warm up, we get cold, that will always strike me as funny.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!