I was born in snow country, raised in the rain belt, and have spent my adult life in the drought prone regions of southern central Africa. My childhood Christmases were cold. We prayed and hoped and wished for snow, but mostly it eluded us. Instead we sometimes had frost, and crisp cold days where the mud in the tracks was frozen solid into ridges that could twist your ankle. Autumn’s leaves lay on the ground morphing into the mud. Everywhere we looked lines were etched with microscopic crystals of ice. Trees were black lace against a winter sky.
To avoid the depression at the onset of long winter months we had Christmas. As soon as the days grew shorter, bright festive lights and glitter appeared in every shop window; arcing across the streets, bouncing back from the puddles of rainwater in our paths.
There was magic in the air. We were promised joy, happiness, feasts, family unity, gifts
And a chance to sing our hearts out at carol concerts.
fig tree fruits version of christmas baubles?
Here, now, we have summer in all its glorious fruitful emerald green abundance. Christmas creeps up on me with only a polite occasional cough to announce its arrival. You would think I would be used to it by now, but I miss the magic like a miss my childhood seen through rose tinted sunglasses.
Christmas madness here starts with the roads. It is summer holidays for the schools and universities – the long long vacation. On 15th December the country shuts down for a month. Literally. OK retailers continue to stock their shelves to the tune of piped carols but the lights and tinsel are outshone by the sun. The roads are mayhem. Everyone needs to be somewhere else. There are road blocks and accident scenes, delays and breakdowns.
apparently not the place to do your christmas shopping
or any shopping
The weather alternates between cool cloudy rainy days, and blistering sunshine when the humidity levels soar. So we will stay home for once, and enjoy watching the jungle of leaves and creepers, trees and lush grasses which seems to grow before our eyes. The impala herd has doubled in size thanks to all the new fawns that skitter and dance around the periphery on that great adventure of discovery called life.
This morning we stopped for a chameleon crossing the track. You cannot be in a hurry if you wait for him to cross. His stop-start pace is the stuff of legends and lore. There are tortoises on the move too. We haven’t seen them all winter, but now must beware that we don’t drive over them. The air is an orchestra of bird song – at night the frogs bring in the base rhythms and trills; lions call a wave of sound traveling across the night; and elephants use the curtain of green to move their youngsters around the reserve to party at the waterholes.
So we will cook a turkey and some of the trimmings; raise our glasses to absent friends and family, read books at the pool, and generally take the day off. Time to think and appreciate. Rayson will go home to his family for two weeks so we will be home alone. Who knows I may even get some of those jobs done I have been procrastinating about all year.
Have fun everyone – and celebrate the season of joy as you mean to go on!