I've always loved Summer. Dazzling sunny days and warm, sultry nights. We eat on the stoep most evenings with paraffin lanterns dotted about in the trees creating a festive, holiday atmosphere. I love the fact that even while wearing short dresses with shoe string straps, and flip flops, I don't feel chilly. The weather is urging us to unwind a little. Our energy for anything other than enjoyment is very much on the wane.
At the moment however, the Karoo heat has become overpowering. There is a hot, searing wind that whips up the dust until it seems to invade every pore of my being. The air is so dry that my eyes burn, and tears well up with every scratchy blink. The scorching sun makes walking out doors unbearable.
Feeling stifled and claustrophobic, I open the bedroom windows that have been closed all day to keep the heat out. I'm longing for the cool night air to waft in. It doesn't. The usually crisp white linen, feels warm. I flip my pillow over to find the cool side. Jack asks me if I've turned on the electric blanket by mistake. It certainly feels like it. The heat forces us to lie apart. There will be no spooning tonight. We spread out using every inch of the extra long king. In desperation, I cover my sweaty body with a wet sarong. Aah, instant relief.
The next evening we opt for a change. Taking out the camping mattresses we fling them on the front lawn. We each grab a pillow and a sheet . Tonight we're sleeping under the stars. We lie in a row alongside each other. Papa's in the middle, with Anna and I on each side. Anna argues that she wants to sleep next to Mama. However, Papa says he can't sleep unless he's next to Mama, and as for Mama, well, she gets claustrophobic, so unfortunately she can't sleep in the middle. Having come to terms with these logistics my child and my husband fall happily, and instantly asleep.
The Dogs think it's heaven and immediately opt to share my mattress. I kick them off and put their doggy beds next to me. The Ridgeback feels protective and leaving his bed he comes and lies on the lawn next to me with his fury muzzle and wet nose, a little too close to my ear for comfort. Feeling very loved I decide to let him stay.
There's a full moon and I lie awake for hours watching the night garden taking shape around me. The two Pepper trees dominate; silent giants standing guard over us. I wonder briefly about previous generations that have lain here on hot summer's nights in the shadows of these very same trees, under the same starry sky. It's a strangely comforting feeling. With these sentimental thoughts in my mind I give thanks to God, for the resilience of the Boere who came to this harsh and unforgiving place and turned it into something beautiful, against all the odds. Oupa en Ouma Grooitjie. I salute you.