The sun is shining but there’s a biting wind and the temperature is a bracing nine degrees.
“Didn’t come to bloody Africa to be cold.” I mutter as I snag a chilli and some parsley. I avert my eyes from the cabbage and broccoli bed. I hoped the broccoli might sprout from side shoots when I beheaded their pretty purple heads a few weeks ago. Now they flop and sadly devote themselves to harbouring the slugs that have diligently avoided my beers traps.
The peas are flowering and perhaps there a baby pods that I could eat without shelling. The bottom half of the garden, where they grow, is still in deep shade even though its mid morning. They can wait. As can the beets and Swiss chard that could do with thinning.
I dart along the boundary wall looking for our daily harvest if passion fruits. Something – I hope its birds but worry that it’s a rat - has been devouring the fallen fruits so I can’t avoid this chore. I’d prefer to be inside feeling bitterness towards my UK friends who moan about the heat-wave they are experiencing.
I’ve been wandering around the house muttering invitations to, “put on their big girl panties”, “stop moaning and enjoy some decent weather for a change”, and “perhaps if the weather stays warm long enough they’ll finally work out how to have a proper BBQ”. It’s fair to say that I’m not at most charitable.
Crikey, I miss summer. I miss it with the same ache I imagine for a Jane Austen heroine dreaming of her potential husband. And, like her, my tormented imaginings are not entirely realistic. During these long nights of winter my summer memories are tinged with a lime green, apple-juice-sweet sort of nostalgia. I forget weeds and bugs and the annoying click-dimp-clack of unbalanced ceiling fans. Images of long tables in dappled shade, condensation beaded jugs of frosty beverages, brightly coloured tableware (that I don’t actually own) pepper my thoughts.
I cheer myself up with the thought that last night was winter solstice; the longest of the long nights of winter. The frigid, depression soaked days of late July and early August are still ahead of me but, on the daylight front at least, we have made one tottering step back towards the golden glow of my favourite season.
I can’t bring myself to celebrate the solstice itself but I can celebrate tonight. The long nights of winter start being a little less long from today. Perhaps we will feast on those peas.