We have been burning the firewood at both ends this winter, fighting back the dry cold air that seeps into your bones if you are not watching. The last week has been bitterly cold which is always tough on the animals. We at least have our lovely fireplace to huddle round and watch the flickering flames and glowing coals into the dark night.
Then suddenly, we woke up to a warmer morning. No jacket required. As if the weather gods had just rolled over and relented to the coming spring. On my way back from town I noticed that the knob thorn acacias alongside the road were coming into flower – bursting with catkin like blossoms like some proudly displayed magic trick. The road rolls and bends then suddenly crests a rise where the lowveld tree canopy spreads out before the view like a persian carpet laid out below the mountains. There was this slightly blue haze in the air – that gauzy promise of change. I felt my spirits lift with the thought. It never ceases to amaze me– this cycle of seasons, that every living thing seems to recognise and respond to.
Yesterday the baboons were very badly behaved. Bad Boons! While the monkeys were thundering up and down the tin roof, and peering in the windows – distracting us with their own brand of guile and games – the badboons were over at the pool pulling the thatch off the roof in great handfuls, spilling it all about the place, destroying the chairs and generally wreaking havoc. Maybe there are some bugs hatching in the thatch at the moment? Or else it was just hooliganism.
We went for a small drive this morning, smelling the warm air. The baboons ran when they saw us coming. They always look guilty – and usually they are. At the dam, the air was full of swifts and swallows, whirling round and around over our heads, swooping to scoop water on the way. It looks like they have just arrived from somewhere. High pitched cheeping noises accompanied their flight – the sound of wind on feathers, and the short sharp zip sound of tiny beaks scooping water.
We may still get another cold snap before I shall pack my winter gear away – and the official spring equinox is still a month away – but here, for sure, this is the first day of spring.