The End of 2Summers


This is not the end of 2Summers the blog. But it is the end of 2Summers the season.

Autumn on the Melville Koppies. I took this photo on a walk with Joe this afternoon, right before sunset. I love the sound of the grass swishing in the breeze.

I named my blog 2Summers because I moved here in August, as summer was ending in D.C. and about to begin in Joburg. I’ve essentially lived one 10-month-long summer, although summer here wasn’t really like summer back home. (It was much cooler in Joburg.)

I’m baffled by South African seasons. In the U.S., the first day of fall is on the autumnal equinox, usually September 20 or 21. The first day of a new season is a big deal — recognized by local news anchors, weathermen, and the like. The first day of the season may have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual weather, and it often doesn’t, especially in these climatically tumultuous times we’re living in. But at least there’s a date to look forward to, or dread.

In South Africa, the delineation between seasons is murkier. September 1, “Spring Day,” is considered to be the first day of spring, but there seems to be no official day for the start of any other season. It can be freezing in December, which is the middle of “summer” and pleasantly warm in July, at the height of “winter.”

Plus, South Africa is overrun with plants brought by European settlers from northern climates. These plants have no idea how to behave in the Southern Hemisphere. The magnolia tree outside our window is in full bloom right now. It was also blooming when I arrived in August. So you can’t always depend on Mother Nature to tell you what season it is.

Taken today, supposedly at the start of “autumn.”

None of this matters much to me anyway, as I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to program my brain to think of December as summer or July as winter. It’s more difficult than driving on the left side of the road.

But there’s a serious chill in the Jozi air this week, and the leaves on the plane trees that line Melville’s streets are changing, albeit with little fanfare — they just turn brown and fall on the ground. I even saw a guy sweeping (brooms reign supreme over rakes here) the leaves into piles the other day. So I think it’s safe to say that summer is pretty much over.

Fall colors on a wall in Melville this afternoon. There is some indigenous fall foliage to be found around here but this creeper obviously came from Europe.

Three days ago marked the eight-month anniversary of my arrival in South Africa. And once I hit the “publish” button for this entry, I will have written 100 posts as 2Summers. I’ve gained a loyal following of readers and lots of wonderful things have happened to me because of this blog. 2Summers has become a part of my identity. So even though the name doesn’t really make sense anymore, I’ll keep it.

I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing here or where I’ll be in another eight months. But I’ll just keep typing and clicking away until I figure it out. I can’t wait to see what winter brings.

Yet another beautiful sunset view of Jozi, taken a few weeks ago on the Melville Koppies.

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  • Reply livvy30 April 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and I really like your photos! I’d love to go to South Africa….some day! Seasons here in Ireland are pretty random too-we’re getting ready for “summer” now!

    • Reply 2summers April 10, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Thanks so much for reading. I’d love to go to Ireland someday too. I guess the seasons are random all over the world — I’m adjusting to a new style of randomness.

  • Reply Derek Smith April 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Some great pics here Heather! Yes the season is definitely turning and hopefully you’ll be around in September when the plane trees start budding again – That’s miraculous….one day it’s bare branches and in a blink of an eye there’s new green life. Went back to the Melville Visitors Centre today and Joe’s photographs are great – I love the one with the tree and the horses in the background.

    • Reply 2summers April 10, 2011 at 10:40 am

      Thanks Derek. I remember the plane trees budding last September — we went away to Lesotho for a week and when we got back, the whole neighborhood was green! Glad you enjoyed Joe’s pics — I love the horse photo too.

  • Reply eremophila April 10, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Congrats on your first century:-)
    That first image is an absolute stunner! You’ll be having your own exhibition soon!
    Australia is over-run with South African plants, in addition to European ones, and they get confused here also. Have fun with a different experience of autumn.

    • Reply 2summers April 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Wow, thanks so much. That means a lot coming from you.

      There are also tons of Australian plants in SA. The British empire really wreaked havoc on the world’s natural balance.

  • Reply amblerangel April 10, 2011 at 7:00 am

    I love the pictures – as always. Love the blog and like you wonder what happens to the blog when I leave. I’ll take Scarlett’s approach,” I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

    • Reply 2summers April 10, 2011 at 10:43 am

      I take that approach on so many things. Probably too many.

  • Reply Slowvelder April 10, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Ha you had me. I was about to beg you to keep on blogging. Just when I thought I understood SA plants I moved further north and now I must grow summer plants in winter. But only some of them. Others remain the same. Now I’m just trying to figure out which is which.

    • Reply 2summers April 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

      It’s difficult to follow all the moving targets!

  • Reply clouded marble April 10, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I remember a time when the seasons weren’t as confusing here. These days I doing the seasonal calendar countdown 🙂

    Love your photos, especially the first one! And congrats on number 100!

  • Reply tomorrowslices April 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Great photos! Joburg has such lovely crisp autumn mornings – enjoy! I’m sure you’ll find the winters different from what you are used to!

    • Reply 2summers April 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

      Thanks a lot. Autumn has been a nice season so far.

  • Reply Tilly Bud April 10, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    You gave me a fright, naughty girl!

    South Africa doesn’t do Autumn, I know that much 🙂

  • Reply wendy April 10, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    The ‘seasons’ are confusing us South Africans too. I saw a beautiful mauve bobbejaanstert (baboon’s tail) in flower last week. It should have finished flowering way back in December. The unusually heavy rains have confused everything. Unfortunately the weeds are thriving with warm wet weather so we have had no respite from weeding Melville Koppies. That is what conservation means – weeding out the alien plants so that the indigenous ones can flourish. Ignoring the house keeping, Heather, your lovely photos capture the magic of the Koppies.

    • Reply 2summers April 10, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks so much, Wendy. We have so much weeding to do in our tiny back garden — I can’t even imagine weeding the entire Melville Koppies. They’re looking beautiful though. You and your volunteers/staff do a fantastic job.

  • Reply Joshi Mukard April 11, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Congrats on your 100th post. One hundred posts in 8 months is quite fast.

    • Reply 2summers April 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Thank you! I’ve technically been blogging for 9.5 months because I started before my move. But it’s hard to believe I’ve written 100 posts already.

  • Reply lisa@notesfromafrica April 11, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Yeah, you got me with that title. Not nice! 😉

    Beautiful photos! And interesting to hear that Joburg isn’t as hot as DC. As others have mentioned, the weather here in SA has really changed in the last decade or two. The Southern Cape – which always had mild weather – has got a lot warmer with respect to average temperatures. Last night never got below 20C.

    • Reply 2summers April 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

      I never could have imagined how much more pleasant summer would be here compared to the east coast of the U.S. I like hot weather, but summers in D.C. are unbearably hot and humid — especially last year. The high temp was well above 32 for about two months straight, combined with high humidity. In comparison, there was hardly a day that I would have defined as “hot” in JHB this summer, although I think that summer was unusually cool this year.

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough April 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Okay–I thought maybe you were serious, but it’s good to know you were only trying to get a rise out of us. It’s interesting to hear how you came up with the name of your blog–I had wondered. Hope you week gets off to a good start!

  • Reply Katja April 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Oh! We had a creeper like that on the house I grew up in – which was in Somerset, by the way. My mum used to curse it up hill and down dale for ruining the brickwork, but when my dad ripped it all off the walls to redo the render it looked horrible. It’s invasive but oh so beautiful.

    • Reply 2summers April 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

      We have the same problem here. There are so many beautiful, non-native creepers that will take over the world if you let them grow. I love morning glories, but they destroy everything in their path if you let them. It’s frustrating.

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