Spare a thought for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere; winter is approaching fast. This is a sad, sad fact.
My Northern Hemisphere neighbours may at this stage feel little sympathy as they emerge from a bone chilling adventure with Old Man Winter.
The thaw is starting to set in. Crocuses are emerging. Little lambs will soon be tripping around gaily. Blossoms are blossoming. All will soon be well.
Antipodean Seasonal Angst.
However, down below, on the tip of Africa, we’re all feeling slightly glum. You see, we don’t cope well with winter at all. Never have. Winter arrives like an icy slap in our tanned faces—we never quite recover from the shock of freezing cold weather pummelling away at our senses.
Our beloved braais (barbecues) stand folornly on the patios, whilst most men gaze longingly out of the window at them. Remembering hot, summery days when bodies and meat sizzled merrily under the sun and on the braai. Children’s laughter and splashing coming from the swimming pool. Ice cold beers, ice cold Coca Cola, ice cream, ice cubes tinkling in glasses, ice cold watermelon…aah.
Long, hot nights under the African sky. Camping out in the bushveld. Picnicking on the beach. Bikinis. T-Shirts. Bare feet. Gym memberships and yoga classes filled to capacity. Lithe, tanned bodies on display. Hiking in the mountains. Cricket. Sunburnt noses. The joy of baking in the sun and noshing on an abundance of fresh fruit. Blue skies. Afternoon thunder showers bringing welcome relief from the heat.
Never fear that we are a reckless lot, though.
Sunscreen sales zoom out of the stratosphere and our children look like ghostly zombies when stepping out to frolic. The most protective mothers buy the SPF50000, which hardens into a glue like white substance that even water cannot penetrate. They are layered in UV resistant swimsuits, hats, towels and t-shirts. I swear those kids are paler after the holidays than when they began!
We don’t necessarily get as cold in Africa as in the North. However, the cold is a biting, relentless one. Our homes, our places of work and our clothing are hopelessly inadequate in winter. Miserable families sit in front of the television huddled under blankets. Long lines of sniffling, germ infested people gather at the pharmacies, bemoaning the flu and the cold. Heaters and humidifiers become the most sought after items. Everyone has a flu remedy and we try them all! A sad time indeed. A cold, seemingly endless winter.
One of the many things South Africans love to do is discuss the weather. We moan when it’s too hot, we moan when it’s too cold and we especially love to moan when it rains too much (or too little). It’s one of our national pastimes. It’s not a whining kind of moaning. Rather a habitual discussion of the temperatures, the pollen count, the rainfall etc and how we feel they are affecting us, our gardens and our social lives. It’s a mutual moan, a collective bonding of people who are stuck in a frigid situation and passing the time of day helping each other to remember just how miserable we all are!
Coping, Croaking and Casseroles.
So, where does this leave me, the Wannabe Yogi, as we head into the season of solitude?
Winter brings out the worst in me, unfortunately. I layer on the fat in an indulgent pity party similar to grizzly bears feasting on fresh salmon after a Winter long hibernation. My weakness however is not salmon but chocolate; tons of it, in fact.
Hot chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered waffles, chocolate muffins—I like to think that I contribute significantly to the world economy when it comes to the cocoa bean!
I burrow under the covers in a tragic heap of sadness. I stop phoning friends. I ignore invites if at all possible. I dive into books as one would a life jacket on a sinking ocean liner. I wear odd combinations of clothes. Socks become my best friends. Scarves a close second. Kittens and kids (my own) get lured into my cave of a bed with promises of stories or catnip in exchange for a cuddle. Who gets the story and who gets the nip is entirely up to them!
My long suffering spouse comes to terms with the fact that cold feet are inevitable and that kids and cats will share the cave for most of the Winter. He has wisely learned after many trips around the sun with me that it’s best to enter the cave, waving chocolate and offering to go out hunting for dinner.
Occasionally, I get a spurt of energy and go into earth mother mode. I cook casseroles, light gazillions of candles, burn exotic oils, light a fire and pretend that I am cocooning. That I, in fact am really, truly loving having hairy legs, a freezing butt, a runny nose and a voice that sounds like a frog doing a Michael Jackson impersonation.
My yoga teacher shakes her head despairingly as I drag my ever expanding carcass into the occasional class, clutching a chocolate bar and whining about how cold it is and can she turn the heat up and why must it be so cold and can we please not overtax ourselves tonight and can she please stop looking so slim and gorgeous and, and, and…
So if you, like me, find winter a tad warying, you’ll love the following story which sums up my woeful winter worries in the most heartwarming way:
Gonna Be a BearIn this life, I’m a woman; in my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months.I could deal with that.
Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid—I could deal with that, too.
When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.
If you’re the momma bear, everyone knows you mean business; you swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them, too. I could deal with that.
If you’re a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.Yep, gonna be a bear!(Unknown)
Happy Summer to y’all in the North—lots of strength to us all in the South.
I’ll see you on the other side …..
Dawn Meysel hails from South Africa. Wife, Mother of Twins, lover of books, her bed, her family, her two Zen Masters (her cats) and chocolate. She’s astounded by love and grace, appalled at hatred and injustice. Intrepid seeker of Truth, student of the soul and spirituality, counselor, friend. She’s a novice student of yoga, a vegetarian, animal rights activist and non flakey in the nicest way! She lives by two mottos, “This too shall pass” and “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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