Friday, 11 March 2011

From one extreme to the next

            We’ve been having thunderstorms just lately, which is something unusual here in PE.   We lived for so many years in Gauteng and Natal and my cats were so used to the racket that they didn’t even stir.   Now, suddenly, they are terrified and crawl into the tiniest hole to escape
the noise of the rain on the roof and the thunder.   Our little Jack Russell, Foxy, is experiencing it for the first time, and he is absolutely terrified.   When I’m sitting down he wants to be on my lap, panting and tongue hanging out, and when I get up to go somewhere he walks so close to me that he steps on my feet.   He does the same with Vernon.   He just needs to be near a human.   Poor thing.
            The thunderstorms here are, however, nothing like the ones we experienced in the provinces I mentioned.   There it was sometimes a daily occurrence, and so violent that you could smell the sulphur in the air.   I can remember that we never went to bed at night during the summer without unplugging our modems and computers in case a storm erupted in the night.   Neither did we go anywhere during the day without doing the same in case one of those sudden storms built up and knocked out everything  before you could get back home.
            I was playing bowls in the Ladies Spar Pairs at Vanderbijlpark once when there was a thunderstorm.   Now you’re not allowed off the green until the organisers make it an official announcement, but on that particular day the organisers all ran into the clubhouse to escape the storm.   And there we were, playing out in the rain with lightning flashing all around us.   We were all scared, but my Skip was the first to crack and walk off the green.   When we reached the entrance to the clubhouse everyone else had followed suit and were crowding in behind us.
             I was also playing in mixed trips in Dannhauser (Natal) one Sunday.   When we left Newcastle that morning we could already see the dark bank of clouds in the distance down Ladysmith way.   But, in case you don’t know it yet, bowlers are quite crazy.   We play in all kinds of weather.   Well, as the morning progressed the weather got worse.   By lunchtime it was already so cold I had difficulty holding my knife and fork.
            We were hardly back on the green that day when it started raining.   It was like fine sleet.   No amount of grippo on your fingers or on your bowl could stop your bowl from slipping out of your hand when you delivered it, so you had to use both hands to prevent this happening, and as the bowl travelled across the green it would kick up a fountain of water behind it.   My nose started running from the icy coldness, and the dampness on my handkerchief made it freeze in the pocket of my raincoat so that it was impossible to use it again.   The organisers finally called a halt to the game at three that afternoon and, after drinking something to warm the innards, we drove back home to Newcastle.
            What followed was the worst snowfall in history for Newcastle.   The weight of the snow on the shade cloth bent the steel framework Vernon had had erected in our vegetable garden, and all over in the town the car dealers had cars damaged under mountains of snow and steel.

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