Monday, 6 February 2012

Summer nights

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.

"Women and cats do exactly what they want , and men and dogs must get used to it"

It's 6 am.  In my semi conscious, drowsy state I can hear Milly meowing at the window. I know it's her because she's the only cat we have that does this. It's pointless trying to ignore her. She's got time and patience on her side and she'll persist relentlessly until I stumble blindly to the bathroom window, lift the fly screen, and let her in. She knows there's a window in the kitchen that's left open especially for the cats. However, being a cat, making life easier for me is not on her agenda.
Once in, you'd expect her to quieten down, but no; she's celebrating her victory and wants everybody to realize she's arrived.  She walks around for a couple of minutes mewing and doing "the cat rub" on the bedroom furniture.
Finally she springs onto the bed, and purring loudly she begins to knead the bedding and claw the white linen. Ouch! That completed, she commences her cleaning routine. Gracefully,(cats know no other way) she straightens her back legs, and one at a time she extends them in the air at ninety degrees behind her head, like some bizarre yoga pose. She does this while delicately, but noisily licking her bottom.
I nude her with my foot. "No Milly, do your ablutions somewhere else. This is my bed".  Not in the least offended, she starts making love to my foot. She nuzzles it and licks my sole with her rough little tongue. She nibbles on my toes and when I squirm she holds my foot still by extending her claws; not deeply enough to draw blood, but firmly enough to stop me moving. Double ouch!
Any hopes I had of falling back to sleep are now shattered.  The real reason for all this attention is simple. Milly wants breakfast. She has me well trained.  Obediently I get out of bed, shove my feet into my slippers and traipse off to the kitchen with Milly, tail straight up, leading the way.  I'd like to think of it as a win, win situation.  After all, I do this because Milly brings me so much joy? No? Given the choice between an alarm clock and a meowing cat, I guess I'd pick the cat. One thing I am sure of is this: You've gotta love cats! They give you no choice!