Summer has certainly arrived in Joburg. Our days are hot, hot, hot. Our nights are uncomfortably hot. And we’ve had our first big rain which has magically transformed our landscapes from dull brown to a rich, glorious green.
Sometimes we can feel the rain coming for days. The days become oppressive and unbearably hot and humid. You start to long for the colder autumn days. Then one day, just as you feel that you cannot take it anymore, the clouds gather slowly. The skies start to darken. The birds circle frantically overhead. And if it’s going to storm, the winds whip the trees so that they rattle and bend furiously. And then suddenly with a roar of thunder and a crash of lightning, the rain will pour as if the floodgates had burst. In Joburg, thunderstorms like this will start at about 14h00 and burst forth about two hours later. People will start to pour out of office from about 15h00 to avoid the traffic in the storm. The last place that anyone wants to be in a Joburg storm is sitting in traffic. There is no place to hide, you cannot run, there is no protection from the elements and if the hail falls at the same time, then your journey home becomes much more fraught with risk of either having an accident or being stuck for hours because of an accident that has now blocked the highway for kilometers. People have been known to be stuck for three or more hours on our highways.
But if you are already sitting at home, possibly on your patio, with a glass of wine in your hand, then a Joburg storm can be a beauty to behold. The crash of lightning lights up the sky, the rain thunders down loudly on the roof and the leaves on the trees appear to dance to their own music which we cannot hear. Listening to the sounds of a storm in the silence that the storm brings to everything else is quite magical.
Other times, we are taken by surprise. The weather forecast says 10% chance of rain but the skies are clear and the sun shines down as relentlessly as if we were in the middle of a desert. Then in the middle of the night, we are roused from our sleep by the slow pit a patter of raindrops on the roof. Is it raining, we think to ourselves, as we drift back to sleep? This kind of rain can carry on for hours and when we wake in the morning, the grass smells beautifully clean and the earth has been soaked and drunk it’s fill.
Our storms can also bring tragedy. I have already mentioned the accidents on our roads that take place during storms, but we also have a few low lying bridges which become flooded and unsuspecting drivers attempt to cross the road and get swirled away by the depth and force of the water that wasn’t there just a few short hours ago. We’ve also had a couple of people who have been struck down by lightning. Many don’t realize how critical it is to get out of the rain when it is accompanied by lightning and many schools and golf clubs have lightning meters installed. Despite this, tragedy can still strike. Last year, a school boy was struck by lightning because he ran out to help the cricket team roll the covers over the pitch. The cricketers were fine, but he was still wearing his athletic spikes which acted as a conductor. It was a massive shock and a sober learning experience for many.
At this point, let me return to our sunshine in a jug! It’s so important to keep well hydrated now that the days and nights are so hot again. For those like me who don’t remember to drink water, it has been helpful to slice fresh oranges and lemons into the water. The water takes on a lovely hint of citrus and also looks inviting in the jug. Other fruits to try are grapefruit, strawberries and even pineapple. I also love sliced cucumber and mint for a refreshing change.
Until next time ☕️