Cycles

“The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. ‘Summer is over and gone,’ they sang. ‘Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.’

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into fall the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.’                 – Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White

I am reminded of one of our favorite books and this passage in particular, which I have never resonated with during the month of March! Not only is our own year’s arc curving round, but we are noticing the shift of day length and seasons. Recently, Simon and I both realized we were noticing the crickets calling more. The mornings are cooler with a lot of dew and we even pull the blankets on at night. The leaves on several varieties of trees have turned golden and I’ve seen winter gear featured in the stores– so it must be on its way!

But I remember exactly how this time of year feels for those living in the northern hemisphere. What a treat it is to feel the warmth on the face from a stronger sun, to open up and air out the house, and to watch the trees and shrubs come back to life. Good things are coming and all you northerners are ready for it I know!

Here, we’re in the equivalent of those last days of summer in late August when the urgency is upped to relish what remains. Are we ever trying! In honor of this most glorious and upside down summer we have had, let’s linger on some of these scenes of summer.

There is lots of great fruit in South Africa, especially so these past couple months.  This makes no one happier than Elsa Ruth, whom we refer to as our “fruit girl.”  I laughed recently when we all made our own lunches and this is what Elsa Ruth’s plate looked like!  The perfect meal according to her.

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We have loved the peaches and nectarines. But most of all we had been waiting for the mangoes. What a treat to have one nearly every day.

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We were not as keen on litchis however. They came into season for about two months and you could find people selling these at many roadsides and markets. They do look intriguing with their bumpy, deep red skin and they seem so exotic as I don’t think we can find these in Fargo!  We wanted to like them, so we tried them twice for good measure but didn’t become fans.

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Imagine my luck, that we would get a whole second round of flowering trees to rival the Jacarandas! I did try to restrain myself this time and to their credit, my family tolerated my commentary better than last time.  I’m told these are called “Pride of India” and not an indigenous tree.  You’re ooh-ing and ahh-ing with me, right?

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Flowers have been in abundance everywhere. I especially enjoy seeing them at the traffic islands and along the roads where the municipality plants flowers together with food crops. I have made this a conversation opportunity all year when I am out walking- to ask people if they know who harvests the cabbages and greens. I can’t confirm the accuracy of the answers but people are always glad to tell me that the harvest is given to orphans, the elderly, or hospitals.  Everyone I’ve talked to expressed approval for this initiative and also their amazement that the vegetables don’t seem to get stolen. Indeed!

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Compare the landscape at the public nature reserve nearby when we first arrived last August:

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To now:

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The grasses there are lush and green with plenty of wildflowers to enjoy on a ramble. (And zebra and giraffe!)

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But on a hot day, what you want to find most is some shade.  You take what you can get!

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Thank goodness for the shade on this super hot Sunday when we were invited to braai with some new friends beside a creek! Braai is the South African equivalent of barbecuing, however it must be on a charcoal grill and the meat is likely to be Boerwors (“farmer’s sausage”) or lamb.

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It would not be summer without swimming, especially on those uncomfortably hot days.  We are so lucky to have a colleague of Scott’s we can call on a scorching afternoon to stop over for a quick dip.

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As folks habituated to the drama that is the four seasons in North Dakota, can we be blamed if we are missing some of the more subtle signs of change here? I’m certain our senses are not as finely attuned as locals who must notice and anticipate with greater sensitivity than we do. Even so, what a gift to live in a very different climate for a whole year, to watch myriad cycles unfold and to remember those back home too.

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2 thoughts on “Cycles

  1. Hi family
    I am ooh-ing and aah-ing over the beautiful jacarandas and another wonderful post. Love all the news and pictures and am learning so much all the while missing you. Keep up the exploring and sharing it all with us. Love you, Grandma Nancy

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  2. We just went through a very typical North Dakota cycle the last three weeks. We had two weeks of beautiful, unseasonably warm weather (mid 40s-low 60s)! New students were excited for the arrival of “SUMMER”, but we cautioned them to wait… this week the temp dropped back into the 30s, and today again we woke up to snow cover. Needless to say only a few students ventured out today, I’m sure many were still at home wondering what happened to our pre-summer weather!

    There were a lot of HUGE flakes this afternoon, those wet sticky giant flakes. And although they stayed on the grass, they melted as soon as they touched the concrete. However our dear sweet Rabi Gh. was very concerned he would have to “sleep in the school”, and kept asking Nancy about the weather during citizenship class.

    Enjoy the changes there, there have been many changes here, but students ask about you regularly and are always thinking of you!

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