The wearing of the colour of the jacarandas is obligatory in Zimbabwe in October. I have a dear natty little purple outfit that gets worn faithfully every year at this time.
It must be in the blood, as something strange always happens to Bulawayans at this time of the year. It starts hotting up in July, It is a bit like watching a tennis match as one sets off into town for a "hunting and gathering " session.
Heads twisting and turning in glee, WHO WILL SPOT THE FIRST JACARANDA BLOSSOM
Well last year it was Tracey, who one year saw them in July but this year it was Bruce M. from Sunningdale, who as early as 29 August, saw the first pale lilac spring buds !!
'Up here in my Erie' said 'there is a magnificent sight each day. In the evening over 400 sacred ibis fly into the trees opposite here and every morning just after six, against a golden sky, they fly out for the day. Some of them pass so close that you can hear their wing-beats."
Back to Jacarandas - now the tree pundits cower in horror at the thought of these frightful "Exotics" but we old timers live breathe and eat happiness during Jacaranda blossom time, which lasts I might add, from now until February !! I heard with horror that they were culling Jacaranda trees in the Matopos some years ago!
Spring time brings madness to many places in the world, they hurtle round maypoles in England, they eat giant white asparagus and drink tart new Beaujolais in France. In China they decorate their front doors with bright banners featuring the Chinese character "fu" (meaning blessing or happiness) You have a bit of leeway here with your decor as you can either hang the poster the correct way up, or upside down if you feel that way !!
In Ireland the have Morris dancing and ceilidhs, in Argentina the school kids are given the day off from their studies.
But in September/October we have traditionally celebrated the Jacarandas. Do you remember the Jacaranda Festivals of days gone by When shop windows, especially Meikles, would dress their windows in a glorious profusion of lilac, lavender, amethyst, heliotrope and tanzanite.
Of course Borrow Street Pool would open on the First of September and then on the second Saturday of Spring the Jacaranda Ball would be held at the MacMurray Hall in the Grand Hotel. Aah, that sprung dance floor made of highly polished wood, we would "trip the light fantastic" till dawn and at midnight the Jacaranda Queen would be crowned !!
Names spring to mind of beautiful Bulawayo girls like Gaynor Watts, Lorna Levin and Wendy Jocks, all Jacaranda Queens from an Halcyon Age.....
Don't forget the Jacaranda Float procession where all the big names in Business would lend their trucks to various organisations, schools and clubs and a magnificent array of "Floats" would parade through the city streets.
The Jacaranda Queen and her Princesses would be on the front float, sitting in gilded thrones borrowed from the theatre club, dressed in of course the beautiful colours of the Jacaranda Blossoms.
This year I noticed a couple of Tree Wisterias, laden with their heavy cernuous garlands, which were trying vain to outshine the Jacarandas and they were doing a very good job too !!