June 25, 2014 § 13 Comments

I don’t know if I’m just getting old, but I have struggled with Winter this year. I used to look forward to Winter through the hot Summer months, but this year I downgraded somewhat, and declared my new favourite seasons to be Autumn and Spring.

Every night, after dinner and children are sorted, I’ve retreated to my bed as soon as possible, and I confess I’ve complained about the cold a lot. Johannesburg may not be the coldest place in the world, but our houses are not really designed to keep the cold at bay. And while the days are beautiful, and the sun basks in dazzling blue skies on most days, the rest of the landscape is drab: shades of grey and stone and savannah. And it’s dry, as dry as dust.

But then, last night, my brother and his family arrived for a short visit. My niece and nephew are eight and four years old and they’ve lived in the searing heat of Dubai all of their lives. There, if the sun is shining brightly, you stay indoors, cooled by the refreshing blast of your air-conditioning, because mostly, as Cole Porter wrote, it’s Too Darn Hot.

For them, the cold is a revelation. They giggled last night in the bath as steam rose off their skin. Their eyes grew wide when I told them that sometimes, the dogs’ water bowl has a thin layer of ice on it in the morning, and that very occasionally, if we’re really lucky, it snows a little.

This morning, after breakfast, while the adults cradled steaming mugs of coffee in their hands, they were running around in the garden, calling to each other, and coming inside only to beg – laughing – for a pair of gloves because their little hands were so cold. They watched in wonder as their breath formed clouds of condensation; they ran out onto the brick paving when it was just two or three degrees outside, just to feel how cold it was on their bare toes.

It made me appreciate winter a little more than I have so far. It reminded me that contrast is what makes life interesting. That sorrow makes joy more intense; that you don’t appreciate warmth till you’re cold, or light till it’s dark. And that what seems ordinary to you, may be magical to someone else. It’s all about perspective.



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