Lately, I have been tasting summer. There are sweet mangoes, with a scent so heavy and ripe that I can smell them as I lay in bed at night. These mangoes are small enough that I peel and eat 2 or three while I stand over our kitchen sink. The mamas and papas have been bringing them from their own trees and there is something extra good about eating this fruit that has been shared by friends.
We have also been enjoying ripe, red watermelon. I will eat it warm from the sun or cold from the fridge. I’ve always enjoyed watermelon, but there is something about eating it here in South Africa that is just so much better. Maybe it is just the taste of sweet juice and crisp bites of fruit being eaten on the hottest of days. I’m not sure, but it is delicious.
I have been smelling summer as well. Not only in the scent of fruit, but in the plant life all around. The scent of grass, standing tall or freshly cut is a delight. The smell of earth after a heavy rain makes me want to be still and take it all in. The garden, with the smell of compost reminding me of a dairy farm, a smell that brings back so many happy memories for me.
The smell of children who have been running around in the heat of the day, now slick with a mix of sweat, spilled juice and the grime of a day spent playing hard. The scents of chlorine and sun screen. The smell of sun dried sheets, so fresh and clean.
I have been hearing summer, the sounds of children playing outside into the evening, while the weather is still warm and the daylight lasts into the night. I hear the sounds of birds singing their own unique songs. I hear children screeching as they have water fights with the aunties, laughing as they take aim and try to hit their target.
I hear the whine of cicadas and the buzz of the dragon fly. The whir of the fan as it works to keep us cool. I hear the clang of the pool gate as yet another person decides it is time to cool off with a swim. I hear thunder in the distance and hope that a storm will be soon to follow.
I see summer. I see children running around in nappies and undies as they try to keep cool on the hottest of days. I see watermelon juice dripping down chins and mouths open wide to taste more of summer’s delight. I see tall, green grass, the whole veld alive and thriving from the summer rains.
I see sunlight streaming down, almost every day, blindingly bright, but so welcome. I see children and adults all finding room in the shaded places, enjoying the cover provided by tall trees. I see herds of animals, thick with young, making their way to the watering hole to drink.
I feel summer. I tuck in my tired, sweaty children and receive their sticky bedtime kisses. I feel the sun scorched earth when I walk without shoes. I feel the irritating tickle of the multitudes of flies as they try to find a place to rest on my arms and legs.
I feel the heat of the day in each child I pick up. I feel the cool water closing in on me when I jump in the pool and enjoy a few moments of fun with my family. I feel the warm breeze coming through the car windows.
This thing called summer, this thing I want to experience with all of my senses. This summer in South Africa, a thing I wish I could share with each of you.