It’s very pleasant to sit in my what-has-been-described as a “Boho-Chic cottage” in the Hurst and contemplate… not my navel, but the changing of things around me. Something curious occurs around about this time – apart from the fact that Johannesburg now seems to empty out twice a year, instead of just at Christmas. We can all feel the change of season coming I think, so like swallows heading for warmer climes during cold months – or lemmings chasing one another – everybody packs up the urban 4 x 4 and heads for the coast, to hang out with all the other Vaalies who are behaving like ostriches and refusing to look the fact that winter is coming in the eye. (Excuse all the animals imagery!) The last ditch attempt to enjoy summer and balmy warmth. Yes, leaves are changing colour, there are definitely little Japanese fighter pilots about, and thoughts turn – well, for me and other greenies certainly – to what on earth we’re going to grow in our gardens during the colder months. (Oddly, though, it has been pouring with rain here for the last few weeks, completely the wrong weather for this time of year. So one wonders if there is any truth to this global warming phenomenon. But that’s a whole other story for another time!)
There’s almost a sadness in the air as leaves begin to decay, flowers fade away, and the sun rises a little later every day. And I must admit to already contemplating when to start cocooning, or hibernating in my case! Almost time to get the winter woollies and knitting needles out and embrace the coming coolth.
But Johannesburg certainly becomes a very nice place to be when there aren’t so many people around to clog up the streets. Having just been down to the Cape, to cheer on my Cape Epic riding husband (and yes, he finished, although why anybody would want to put themselves through what I can only see is unmitigated hell for 8 days, the Lord alone knows…), I realised that the pace of life in our major city is somewhat unrelenting. But driving anywhere down there is a complete nightmare at the moment, so maybe it wouldn’t be the place for a speed freak like moi to live any time soon! (They’ve also been having unseasonable weather, with temperatures in the high thirties – but I take the rain with me wherever I go, so didn’t get to enjoy that.)
These are Strange Days Indeed, although possibly a little different to the days envisaged by Stuart R Ward (going round naked at this time of year, not exactly the most sensible thing to do), or by Francis Wheen – but there is a feeling among those I know that the world is perhaps on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Especially considering recent events on the political scene here in SA. (I don’t, however, do politics, but it was tres interesting seeing the counterbalancing of this past week’s Sunday Slimes front cover above the fold of Terre’Blanche’s murder on the one side, and Malema’s continued use of the Kill the Boer slogan… Yes, the press are the agents of polarisation!)
All this makes me think is that it may be quite nice to embrace a culture of counter-thinking, perhaps time to espouse an alternate lifestyle. A time for the Neo-Hippies to take back the streets and rid the world of yuppiedom, returning to a more Boho-chic way of life. Is this happening anywhere else other than in some little enclaves of Johannesburg? Could there soon be a revolution in the First World, one where people care about others and the environment, not just about how big their next car should be? As the Highveld settles down for a hopefully sedentary winter slumber, I hope that when spring raises its head again in a few months time, that people may come out of their cocoons all the better for it – and in a better frame of mind…