Most of all, I realised just how cold it can be up here for a self-confessed Durban Girl.
When I woke up this morning, there was frost on the ground and it was 8 degrees in my bedroom. It is now 9. 9 degrees, not 9 o’clock. The time is 6.30 am. The sun has not yet risen above the gum trees that form a line down to the river, but I can see that it is trying. Maybe, like me, the sun finds it just too hard to get up when it is this cold.
I am back in my bed now, wrapped up in gloves, my hooded dressing gown, a duvet and two blankets. I have re-heated (for 3 minutes instead of the usual one and a half) my bean bag which is shaped like a teddy bear. It’s probably burning the socks off my feet, but I can’t feel them yet, so I won’t worry about that for the moment.
Nestling at the foot of the gum trees is a brown thing that I am hoping is an eland because we saw their tracks yesterday on the way to the river. It hasn’t moved in half an hour, and I am starting to have a sneaking suspicion that eland are supposed to be grey, not brown. There’s no internet here so I can’t contact my old friend Google to check. Perhaps it is a cow. A frozen cow. But then, these farms don’t seem to have any cows; only guest cottages. Maybe guest cottages make more money than cows. I could ask my friend Trish who runs a cattle farm, but she doesn’t have any guest cottages – no time
for her to run those as well as a whole cattle farm.
Now that there is a little weak sunlight filtering through the gum trees, I suspect that my eland/cow might be a log.
As I stood in the kitchen this morning, having fired up the gas geyser but still waiting for the hot water to trickle through the pipes, I couldn’t help but wonder: is this what it’s like in Australia and New Zealand where most of my family now live? Shame. Or, as we say in South Africa: Ag, shame, hey?
When the kettle finally boiled for my tea, I swilled out the mug with boiling water and was tempted to empty it over my hands, just to check if I could actually feel anything, but at that moment the microwave pinged. My beanbag teddy bear had toasted to a lightly smoking mass, damp with condensation, so I slipped it under the layers of dressing gown and pyjamas, and hugged it against me instead while I finished making the tea. I will deal with the burnt, chapped skin on my stomach when I get back to Durban.
Even as I write this first draft of what might later become a blog, it is so cold that the ink in the ballpoint pen is reluctant to flow, and I have to keep rolling it between my gloved palms like a fire stick. I am tempted to dip it into my tea, but I fear that the cold plastic may lower the temperature of that trusty beverage even more. On the other hand, I may need to use the pen to crack the ice that seems to have formed like a skin across the top of my tea.
What does any of this have to do with writing, you may ask? Nothing, but even a writer needs a holiday. Or I could just tell you that I’m doing research for my next novel where two characters take a trip into the Berg.
Time for another cup of tea, methinks...