WINTER DELIGHTS          - 26/6/2012      <--Prev : Next-->

It's nearly the end of June and Bulawayo looks pretty drab and dry. The rains were not good this year, but somehow that winter dryness is always so very special. The jacarandas in the suburbs are losing their tiny leaves heavily. All the gardeners are sweeping furiously on the verges in a never ending battle but enjoying the camaraderie of the collective yet daunting effort. There is however something very comforting about watching them do this laborious sweeping year after year.

Soon the competition will begin as to who will spot the first jacaranda blooms !!

The dryness has its own peculiar beauty, the aloes and succulents are budding now, the beautiful echeverias, kalanchoes and cactus of every size and description, and the bougainvilleas always look their vibrant best in winter.

City sounds change in winter, there are the sounds of different garden birds, the Heuglins Robyn is less vociferous and yet the barbets seem to call more. One of the most evocative winter sounds is that of the red-eyed dove, she softly trills her monotonous yet intriguing call hour after endless hour. Sunset comes early as the shortest day of the year approaches; the brown hooded kingfisher raucously announces his retirement for the night earlier and earlier. Then there is the endless sound of chopping wood, and always the clang of the metal dustbin lids. Other countries have wheelies, or rubber bins or plastic bags, but somehow those metal dustbins of ours seem to be indestructible.

City smells are different too, smells of wood smoke and dry grass, smells of soup cooking and pot-roasts. It's a hazy languorous smell, which comes with the bitterly cold mornings and ends up with balmy radiant sunshine by noon.

The much sought after sunny spots are collective catchment areas for chilly folk, lawns, verges, pavements become somnolent sun traps and suddenly the toasty car is a pleasant place to be. Grey days are few and far between in Zimbabwe, we never suffer from that real condition SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder like so people in so many countries, two grey days in a row would have us totally confused !! Our dress code in winter calls for the layered look. Coats and jerseys first thing in the morning, one can shed an article of clothing every hour or so, and by midday we are down to a single layer and literally frying. As the afternoon wears on, we start putting out layers back on again slowly one by one.

Aaaah such a tough life in the tropics.......

Its at this time of the year that there is a definite yearning to head for Hwange or Mana Pools or Ghona Re Zhou and inhale the sights and sounds there, its easier to see the animals in winter with less dense bush and the concentration around the less dry water holes.