There is a Season … Turn, Turn, Turn

The sun, it seems, is rising with reluctance. Dawn, as if taking a cue from the sun, is appearing later and later, and so is her chorus. Our little world is in quiet retreat, now that the rains have left and the air has cooled. The Paradise Flycatchers, such a decorative adornment among our teak trees most of the year, have migrated. The Mongongo tree above us, almost groaning with relief, is losing its leaves and dumping its nuts onto our tin roof.

Our Mongongo tree at sunset.
Our Mongongo tree at sunset.

The animals have stopped following the shade during the day; instead they now luxuriate in the sun. As do I. Sometimes, as the sun rises above our filter pool between the house and my office, I turn and stare straight at it. I lower my eyelids and let its light turn their insides carmine red. I stay like that for minutes at a time, allowing for an infusion of Vitamin D before starting my day.

Father and daughter bask in the morning sun outside my office.
Father and daughter bask in the morning sun outside my office.

Summer’s sky — once so heavy with water retention, and at times so violent — has withdrawn to make way for horizons undimmed; horizons that seem to reach beyond into a faraway world. Even the Zambezi River awakes under a blanket of mystery these days. Who knows what happens under that veil of mist that is so slow to lift each winter morning? What is the River God Nyami Nyami doing in those dark depths?

Frankie warms his tummy in a bowl of sun-drenched Mongongo nuts waiting to be shelled.
Frankie warms his tummy in a bowl of sun-drenched Mongongo nuts waiting to be shelled.

Imagine being braced by this air while hacking through our valley on the back of a horse. My spirit soars. If my feet weren’t in stirrups I’d be flying instead. A kind neighbor has asked me to help exercise her horses, so I’m riding again. Tearing up shirts and jodphurs in the grasp of ‘wait-a-bit’ acacia trees while looking for elephant and buffalo around her property on the river; trotting and cantering around center pivots with a mutual friend next door; wandering beneath the canopy of teak woodlands identifying trees and birds here on our beautiful farm.

On one of our rides: a bush airstrip.
On one of our rides: a bush airstrip.

We start our evening walks nearly an hour earlier now. In the summer it’s too hot to head out before the sun starts setting. Around 5pm we hurry out with the dogs so as to bear witness to the sun’s daily eulogy, splashed across a massive sky in colors so transcendent, before burying itself behind our vegetable garden when we return to the house at nightfall.

The night noises have stopped — the frogs have moved on — and even our roosting birds seem unsure of themselves. The other night, while our garden was illuminated by a bright full moon, I was awoken by a Cape Turtle dove telling us to “Drink lager! Drink lager!” His clock was all muddled; he’d usually advise us at sundowner time. I fell back to sleep thinking that the dove must be out having a slumber party.

Jungle gardening.
Jungle gardening.

But it’s my garden that really delights in this time of year. Seeds can germinate without being battered by downpours, or eaten by critters that the rains bring to life. Instead, supported by pollinators flocking to the native trees overhead, and by river water spray-misted over each bed, it explodes into a colorful tangle of flowers and food. As we learn more with every season we’re being shown by each plant where they are happiest. Now, I don’t remove a courgette vine if it’s decided to take root in a composted bed full of peas. One grows up, the other crawls along the ground. They are fine. They know their way around Eden.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.

14 Comments

  • What a captivating illustration of the change of season Bella, written in your inimitable style!

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    • Thank you so much, Bridgey. It’s SUCH a lovely time of year! xo

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  • As usual Annabel an absolute delight of words summoning up exactly what you describe so clearly. Very heart-warming ! Thank you. My garden here in the Eastern Cape pretty much does it’s thing too and in autumn all the poppies and violets come up where they’re happiest – so yes it becomes a bit of a riot. Marigolds and California poppies do the same. What is intriguing is that I have had the odd few poppies all year round (Flanders) which has never happened before. Things are also flowering at completely the wrong time. As you say “Turn, turn, turn ” – but the seasons are getting confused.

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    • Wow! Your garden sounds so beautiful. And tucked away in the Eastern Cape it must be heaven! Thank you for your kind comment, Chitaitai. Yes, the seasons do seem confused sometimes. Earlier in April we thought the rain was gone for good, but then just like that it was back. Our poor Mongongo tree above the house didn’t know where to put its energy. New leaves started suddenly appearing just as the nuts were dropping! Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog. All the best to you … Annabel

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  • I miss the crisp dry winters of Africa and even 9 years down the track still adjusting to our wet winters of the south west of Western Australia. I do look forward to the wildflower display here in spring. Thanks for the memories and have a gallop for me!! Jan

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    • Thank you for your lovely comment. When I am next on that airstrip I’ll shout out THIS ONE’S FOR JAN!

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  • Such gorgous views – Frankie is the double of “our” cat Olly (belongs to lady next door but he is always here because she is out at work all day). Your descriptions of the heat and light bring so many feelings and memories.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to say hello again. Ask Carol to tell you about Frankie & the Mongongo Nuts. 🙂 He’s such a funny cat! I’ve just returned from an evening walk, and the light really is quite lovely at this time. All the best to you … Annabel

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  • Sounds beautiful Annabel. Remember … never let go of the reins 🙂

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    • Hey hey! Indeed, Georgie. Certainly not on a bush airstrip, at any rate. I might just end up in Botswana … or Namibia … or, God forbid, Zimbabwe! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by … Annabel xo

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  • Superb descriptions Annabel and you are indeed lucky to have found this little corner of Earth that is an Eden. I so envy you and Chris. Keep the articles coming….PLEASE ! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, once again, for your very kind comment, John. I really do appreciate your interest and support in my blog. All the very best to you … Annabel

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  • Love this piece, Annabel. Really brings Africa to life for me as I sit here at the end Of a beautiful early Summer’s day. There’s just a hint of twilight as I write. Hope you’re keeping well. ~ZZx

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    • Thank you for your kind comment, Zsa Zsa. It’s great to hear from you again. I know that time of year in Angleterre well. It’s kind of the pole opposite in every single way to southern Africa, isn’t it? Both are exquisite, though. We are very well, thank you … as I hope you are, too! xo

      Reply

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