I hail from Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa. It lies in the most beautiful valley, surrounded by wine farms and majestic mountains like the Brandwacht Mountain. I remember as a child, when it snowed in winter, one particular spot on this beautiful mountain that was smooth and even and green in summer, covered with a thick layer of white snow. We lived in Church Street, and the house and barn next to it was an old stable in the town’s earliest history. (“The Barn” is now run by some lovely people, who have lovingly restored the house, opened a coffee shop and proudly display their glass-blowing art and paintings – a real treat for me whenever I have the pleasure of going there). From where I could see the mountain in winter, this smooth white patch always invoked longing to roll on it, or just lie on it and gaze at the sky. I grew up rather poor, so skiing was not in my vocabulary! I would cycle to the local airstrip on a Sunday afternoon, and years later go and glide there in gliders, and on one occasion the pilot took me so close to this smooth strip, the plane’s wings almost touched the mountain.
Summers were hot and sometimes windy. An Afrikaans saying which means that the westerly winds always blow stronger in Worcester, was an old favourite amongst us: ”Die Wester Winde Waai Woester in Worcester”! But, with balmy summer nights as a youngster, playing games in the streets under street lamps until midnight, and cold cold winters, at least the one thing we had very little of, were thunderstorms. And thankfully so, as my mother, and by default me, were absolutely shit scared of them – and I still am. Windows and doors were firmly shut, mirrors covered with anything from a towel to a sheet and sometimes even her night gowns. I carried on the tradition, and whilst living in West Beach, Bloubergstrand for a few years recently, I would take my equally scared dog, Jackie, and close us up in the linen cupboard in my passage if the storm struck during the day. Should I be so unlucky that a storm brew at night, I would literally cover my eyes and ears with whatever, i.e. my pillow or duvet, with Jackie under the duvet with me. My son, Allister‘s bed was upstairs under his bay window, and sometimes the electricity was knocked out of the upper floor circuit, yet he slept through it all like a baby!
So it is indeed a testing of nerves for me to be living in an area now where thunderstorms are at the order of the day. Mornings are usually stinking hot, with a wind picking up, chasing the clouds into formation and the kaboom!!! The storm explodes!!! About two weeks ago, after an initial outburst which left us thinking it is over and done with, another bolt crashed down, seemingly right onto our house. I was sitting at my computer, Kobus on the en-suite toilet, my sister in front of the stove, and I have no idea who jumped higher. Probably Kobus, as he came and told me that he was ever so grateful that he was actually sitting on the toilet, as he probably would have shat in his pants…
So this afternoon, we had the same story again – a quick, powerful thunderstorm, even with a bit of hail, and lo and behold – I sat in the “disco room” (an area in our house with a half-circle brick wall around it, sandwiched between our two lounges), and I was relatively calm. I even looked at the bolts flashing down, whilst hugging poor, panting Jackie. Maybe, just maybe, this “test” is to make me stronger??
On a lighter note, we lurve, lurve, lurve our house and Kobus is so so happy. Maybe found Nirvana after all the year’s tribulations??