Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things to love about (a South African) Winter

Growing up in sunny KwaZulu Natal, I didn’t really know what winter was.  It gets cold there, but only cold enough for some decorative jerseys or scarves.  Grahamstown (and the wilds of Hosback) initiated me into real winter (as well as a first snow fall for the three of us (Yemu, Natasja and I) in this picture: ah, bliss!)  I have since come to love some things about winter.  So for those of you out there hankering for the summer months already, here are some things to savour:

    1.)    (this one is paradoxical) The sun
Winter sunlight does not scorch your insides or burn your skin.  It provides tempting nooks in your house for you to lie in, soaking it up reptile-style.  You will miss it when summer comes and every time you step out the house you have to smother yourself in layers of sunscreen (or avoid stepping outside altogether).
2.)    Hot water bottles
Getting into bed and curling your cold toes around something warm until your feet are toasty and then hugging that delicious warmth to your chest whilst reading a chapter of a book with only one hand out of the covers: it is the stuff of hallmark cards, I tell you.
3.)    Gluhwein
Spicy red wine served still steaming in a mug providing all the comfort of tea with a spicy alcoholic kick.  If you are in Grahamstown for the National Arts Festival, get yourself to Yellow House for a mug of authentic German stuff. Mmmmm.  Which reminds me...
Yup, this happens in winter in miserable Grahamstown.  It just wouldn’t be the same in warm weather.  In some corner of my brain, winter means shrugging yourself into four layers and a heavy coat and walking briskly to the nearest theatre or hall that has been turned into a theatre and watching some AMAZ!NG.  Then it means ambling over the Village Green for some fantastic, nutritious Vegetarian food and wandering amongst the colourful stalls until it is time to start bar hopping until everything else but the Long Table has closed and you end up having thought-provoking conversations with people until four in the morning, when you finally shamble out into the cold and make your way home through the deserted streets of Grahamstown, only to start the whole process again the next morning.
5.)    Fingerless gloves
I love these things.  I can keep reading or writing without my fingers freezing off and I think they look rad.  I have a stripy pair and a grey pair that extend up to my elbows for extra warmth.
6.)    Spending more time on the internet
I recently blogged about my issues with the internet.  At the moment though, it is too darn cold to do much else in the evenings.  So I have been spending time finding some mighty interesting blogs out there.  More anon...
7.)    Tea
Oh wait. I’ve blogged about this already. Twice.  J

(ADDITION: I had some input and am remedying some omissions.  A warm thank-you to Yemu, Robyn and SJ.)

8.)    Soup

A bowl of soup is a beauty to behold.  I love the way the steam rises from the top and the way it is just packed full of hot, vegetable nutrients.  My favourite memory of soup is, once again at the festival, but this time working at Wordfest and enjoying cup after cup of pumpkin, chilli, orange and tomato soup from (the now sadly closed) Reddits.

9.)    Rusks

I have four words for you (or five words or three words and one hyphenated monster word, I guess): hot-cross bun flavoured rusks.  They taste exactly like hot cross buns, but they are rusks.  Best. Idea. Ever.  And soon, I will be attempting to bake health rusks.

10.)       Snuggling under the blankets by the fire and having good catch-up chats

Well, you need a fireplace for this, technically, which is in no short supply in Hogsback, I can tell you.  On the Opera Company camps, each cottage had its own woodstove (one of those old-pot-bellied stoves that they rescued from the scrap heap) that would belch smoke so we would smell like woodsmoke for the entire time we stayed there.  We would have to tend that fire as carefully as a baby.  But golly, it kept us warm and having brilliant, long conversations and storing up our strength for the summer.  I am not there this year, but that memory has a rosy glow around it, and somehow just remembering made me feel that little bit more restored.  


  1. This is so fun for me to read, being a North Hemisphere resident and being engrossed in how we experience and enjoy Summertime. =) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on winter! I love learning what other folks do or don't enjoy about various things. I suppose we take the joy of snow for granted. We tend to grumble about it here. =)

    1. Thanks Courtney! I have loved reading your blog posts, but for some reason, it will not let me comment. :( But I am reading them all the same and enjoying your humorous updates on Nate's development.

  2. Three cheers for numbers 2, 3 and 7! Hope you're keeping warm x