Sunday, 12 September 2021

Something special about the highveld

I grew up on the highveld - went to school, studied, worked and lived for the majority of my life. In winter it is dry (cue lipbalm and skin lotions) with icy mornings and nights, and warm days (usually) with a cloudless, blue sky. Spring transitions quickly and is marked by sprouting of leaves and two weeks of after-winter warmth before the furnace doors are opened to usher in summer. Autumn is short lived and is marked by the rapid turning and dropping of leaves. Summer is the main feature where thunderstorms bring welcome rain and the heat can be something else.

I've been in George for almost a year and I am very settled in this Garden Route town. It is big enough and also small enough (not a city by any means) and it has a lot to offer. Being near the sea is neither here nor there for me. The waterways are scenic, the mountains are magnificent and the trails, forests, flora and fungi feed my soul. 

George has a mild climate with little in the way of extremes. In winter, it is not as cold nor as warm in the day as the highveld and in summer it is not as hot as the highveld.

I love heat.

I've had a few days upcountry and I have loved feeling warm to my core - all day. Granted, in George my office is freezing and it will take depth-of-summer heat for me to lose my fleece and scarf when indoors. Outside, if you're moving around it is warm and pleasant.

My travel north was motivated by attending the marriage celebration of a dear friend. I did come up a few days early to visit my old home town of Parys. Here I saw friends and spent a lovely day with Karen. We enjoyed three of our favourite activities that we used to share - swimming in the quarry, a nice long walk and hanging out. 
My brief time in Joburg included some visits with family. The time was too short to do other visits that I'd wanted to but nonetheless I was glad to get in some. 

The small marriage celebration was primarily a family affair and was held at a beautiful venue in the Cradle of Humankind. It was really special to me to be there and to see my friend, her siblings, their children (of whom I have heard lots) and her parents, who I haven't seen for maybe 16 or 17 years (they are about 15 years older than my parents). 

A bunch of years ago I spent a lot of time in the Cradle area on a nearby property. I organised a few corporate team build activities (did a bunch of scouting sessions on my own in the hills), I've participated in many orienteering events there over a period of 15-ish years, and I may have been involved in some event planning (I can't really remember but I do remember being out there a lot).

I love the Cradle of Mankind for its rolling hills and subtle valleys, outcrops, interesting features, reentrants, and antelope. I was reminded too that what I really love about the highveld is the traversable terrain. You can take a compass bearing and, for the most part, head in that direction. 

In the Garden Route, the vegetation is such that going off trail won't get you anywhere. The vegetation is generally pretty dense and unconducive to beeline off-trail travel, which is quite limiting for someone like me, where I've had the freedom of the highveld.

From the hotel, I noticed a tree that just needed visiting. It took a few minutes to walk there.

 Gazing at the hills and rocky outcrops I though of the hominid fossils that have been found - and continue to be found - throughout this area. In the hundreds of thousands of years before me, Australopithicines, Homo variants and other hominids roamed this same area. That is pretty cool to imagine. 
The evening and night out there was a lovely reminder of my activities in years past and my love for the highveld that will always be there, even though I now have a new home. 

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