Which is just a metaphor describing the heat right now. I do feel bad for talking about the miseries of a very hot and glorious summer to readers sitting in a freezing northern hemiphere, but the reality is that the extreme of weather we ourselves are undergoing is what makes us suffer. In July next year I shall be sitting with bitterly cold north winds and hail storms and wishing for a day of sunshine and warmth.
Yesterday my housemate Una and myself took the puppies through to the vet in Worcester. We packed towels, paper napkins for mopping up accients, toys, a water bowl and still water in a bottle. The huge diesel-guzzling beast of a car is air-conditioned, so none of us had a rough trip. And it was a lovely drive through to Worcester, a sprawing unimpressive town at the head of the Breede River valley, with grey and brown renosterbos (the local indigenous vegetation) on one side of the road and deep green vineyards on the other. Folded mountains in grey and lilac. The Hex River Mountains to the north and the Dutoitskloof and Slanghoek ranges to the west. The Nobel prize-winning author JM Coetzee grew up in Worcester and describes the place with some antipathy in his memoir Boyhood.
We had a long wait in the vet’s waiting room before Ilse could see us. She is a marvellous vet and has great rapport with animals. The puppies were weighed and examined and given canine distemper shots and pronounced to be in peak condition. They looked freshly washed and adorable. Ilse has a small baby of 10 weeks and looked drained and exhausted from mothering as well as the heat (well over 40 degrees C). She treats many homeless animals free of charge. Her unstinted love for our small puppies poured out despite her weariness.
On the way home Jez was sick on my lap — she gets car sick sometimes and all the good behaviour was perhaps a little trying for her.
It was a cool evening and we sat with all the doors and windows open and sprinklers dousing the front garden. The moon is still huge and luminous, what is called a ‘waning gibbous moon’.
Woke up long before dawn this morning and did some work, looking out at the silent grey and shadowy fields and garden. I love the quiet hours before dawn. Then the sun was up and the puppies racing about with leaves and twigs in their mouths ( the kitchen tiles look like a forest floor), neighbours out jogging, neighbourhood dogs barking. It is a public holiday, the Day of Reconciliation which was once known as Dingaan’s Day, also called the Day of the Vow to commemorate the hideous Battle of Blood River where 470 Voortrekkers with Mauser rifles killed 100 000 Zulus and thought this victory indicated God’s divine destiny for Afrikaners in southern Africa. The trekkers entered into a covenant with their God to create a white Afrikaner volk or nation that would rule over black heathen Africa. A sad history of triumphalism, and I am glad a measure of humility has been learned at last, after the end of apartheid.
Una has decided to give a brunch and is squeezing fresh orange juice and grilling bacon. Friends will be coming over with hot rolls and sliced peaches, bunches of mint and homemade lemonade. If it is not too hot we shall sit outdoors and watch the puppies play on the grass while we eat and chat. A good beginning to the day.