Saturday, October 28, 2006

October Summer

Summer has crept up on us unawares, swept spring away with a dry broom and sent us searching for the sprinkler attachments. Overnight it seems the grass has burnt to a dull brown and young trees, yesterday so full of new green leaf, have become dry and stressed. Every year it takes us by surprise and we quickly have to get back into our summer routine of watering every evening. Sensible people have automated watering systems. We move the sprinkler around the house at irregular intervals and hope for the best.

Children outfitted by Granny who is visiting us

Afternoons are now for swimming and the children, after an uncertain first few days, have remembered the skills acquired last summer. The older ones are swimming underwater, as long as they have goggles, and youngest is now confident in the deep end with her arm bands. So now I am wrested away from my computer for the complicated expedition down to the pool. The collection of all the necessary accoutrements: hats, flip flops, towels, swimming costumes, cellphone, book, drinks, snacks, the thorough application of suncream to all four of us seems to take at least half an hour, the impatience of the older ones as finally we are ready and then youngest needs to go to the loo. She then walks extremely slowly, firmly holding onto my hand. down to the pool, as the others jump up and down screeching with frustration at the gate, forbidden to enter without an adult. Eventually we are all there. The water is still fresh this early in the season 74F/23C, but later in the summer it will be bath like, over 80F/30C as the charcoal colour absorbs the sun’s heat.

The pool is our essential luxury. The only way of surviving a summer here in the Swartland. Several degrees hotter than Cape Town (which has ocean breezes to cool it), and dry, dry, dry with a hot wind sucking the moisture from everything it meets. We close all the doors and windows at nine in the morning to retain the cool of the night in our straw bale house, then throw them open again once evening brings a slight cooling down to entice a breeze and the odd mosquito into the house. The mosquito nets envelop our beds like grand palaquin tents and the children sleep under sarongs. We’ll have two or three months of this once mid-summer hits us. Now we know that spring will make a come back soon and bring a little more rain and cool fronts, fighting off full summer for a bit. This is just a taster to remind us of the heat in store, get us in survivor mode and wake us from our winter slumber.

I need to make the mental switch over on the food front too: stop planning Sunday Roasts and stock up for Saturday evening braais instead – spicy chicken wings and lemon sausage cooked by my master braai chef husband over wood embers, with the sprinkler going nearby to prevent sparks setting off a bush fire. Butternut squash foil-wrapped on the coals and baby potatoes boiled with mint. Stir fries, pastas and salad take over from stews and casseroles – no more cottage pie comfort food till next winter. I still have to bake bread though, trying to time it so the oven is on in the evenings, not in the heat of the day.

The sprinklers have plenty of alternative uses too!


  1. When the snow flies I will be here basking...children and sprinklers...wonderful!


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