Monday, March 2, 2009

Cape of Fire

So let's talk about the weather, then.

I have never known Cape Town to be so furiously hot. 38 degrees on Sunday afternoon, if the mercury outside the respiratory ICU is to be believed. After three years ostensibly acclimatising to the dry fury of a Cape summer (how I miss Highveld storms - probably the only thing I miss from the great Washington-upon-boredom that is Pretoria, besides drooping masses of jacarandas in October) I was still aghast to see a mile-long blanket of smoke threaten to smother the city this morning. They often joke that a Capetonian becomes delusional the moment he or she cannot see the Mountain, and this morning ou Tafelberg may just as well have been beamed up for repairs by the aliens, so thick was the ill grey cloud. And no respite in sight. I shudder when I think that arson may well be at play in the fires still roaring across both the tips of Africa and Australia. Bastards.

In a few hours' time we will be flying to the other side of the subcontinent, where KZN, as with the rest of the country, is almost drowning in record rainfall. It feels as if an evil balancing act is at play, while one part of the world shrivels and cracks and sizzles, another gurgles, shudders, swells. Two years ago one of my childhood idylls was washed away when storm surges decimated the northern coasts of Zululand; I only hope it has recovered.

The week's leave could not have come sooner. For me exams, hijackings, bereavements and crushingly enervating spirals of red tape were the sorry preserve of last year, threatening to spill over into this one as yet two months old. For the moment I am fleeing the fire, so to speak, to lose myself on a beach as wide as a runway and feel the sun alternate with the rain. Reconnecting with my future wife where the air is humid and the waters are warm. If I'm sounding clumsily poetic, it's because I'm becoming nostalgic past midnight, and possibly even hopeful: The rain must westward. The fires must out. I hope - guarded, as I am wont to - for growth, for life.