Blogging Through the Second Wave

by | Jan 11, 2021 | COVID-19, Johannesburg | 25 comments

It’s Monday, January 11th, 2021. It’s dark and rainy in Joburg and the holidays are officially over. South Africa is suffering through a second wave of covid-19 — worse than the first wave, as many experts predicted, and likely to worsen further as millions of South Africans return to work in the big cities after celebrating the holidays at home. We’re back in Level 3 lockdown, with a strict curfew and alcohol sales banned again.

I woke up feeling anxious and I suspect I’m not alone.

I don’t know about you, but I’m swallowing a bitter dose of reality today. We all said we couldn’t wait for 2020 to be over. But now I’m feeling nostalgic for October and November 2020, when summer came and jacarandas were blooming and I felt like I had been let out of prison — socializing, traveling, doing tours, eating in restaurants.

Simultaneously I’m nostalgic for April and May 2020, when I was barricaded alone at home but at least I had my lockdown journal, with readers counting on me to produce a blog post every day and giving me a clear sense of purpose. Today, that sense of purpose is long gone.

I’m frustrated and scared about what the future holds. This is nothing new. I think most people have gotten used to feeling frustrated and scared over the past ten months. But I no longer have 2020 — that neat little yearlong package that’s been the target of all the world’s scorn since last January — to frame my feelings.

Last week, in an attempt to start the year off right and fend off crippling procrastination and lack of focus, I decided to set a clear(er) work schedule for myself:

  • Monday and Wednesday: Blogging, admin, and other work activities.
  • Tuesday and Thursday: Memoir-writing and Patreon activities.
  • Friday: Flexible, depending on the week.

Then I woke up this morning and freaked out when I realized most of the things I was planning to blog about suddenly seem irrelevant because we’ve got a super-contagious new strain of covid in South Africa and it really doesn’t make sense to do anything but stay at home. What am I going to do with myself all day today and every Monday and Wednesday thereafter?

I meditated, forced myself to breathe, and did an hour-long workout. (By the way, I highly recommend Heather Robertson’s YouTube channel, which contains a seemingly infinite number of workouts and you can exercise for years without ever doing the same one twice.)

At some point I decided to write a post explaining exactly how I feel (see above) and sharing photos of a few fun things I did at the end of 2020 that I didn’t get around to blogging about yet.

Fun Things I Did Around Jozi at the End of 2020

1) Ate My Way Through the Food Gardens of Bedfordview

Just before Christmas, my friend Gail invited me to visit two interesting food gardens in Bedfordview. The first was a community garden built on the site of an old lawn-bowling field at the Italian Club.

I had no idea the Italian Club existed and it’s a discovery in itself. There is a huge Italian restaurant there, Sette Bello, as well as a fantastic Italian deli where I bought delicious imported mozzarella and salami. But the community garden, called the Food Exchange, started a few months ago by urban farming enthusiast Jan Carstensen, was the highlight.

Food exchange at Bedfordview
The Food Exchange.
Janine Carstensen of the Food Exchange
Jan took us on a whirlwind tour of the garden, feeding us as she went.
Peapods from the Food Exchange
These peas were delicious.
Community garden
Sive Faku (left) and his brother Khewzi were working their rented garden plot on the morning we visited.

Jan gave Gail and me a bunch of produce to take home and it was all so fresh and tasty. The Food Exchange doesn’t have a website yet but if you’d like more information or want to visit the garden, contact Jan at 074-235-2898.

Gail and I then drove to Eastgate Mall and visited the Aquaponic Farm District, on the roof of the mall’s sprawling parking garage.

Heather at Ichthys Aquaponic
Standing under a bower of tomatoes at the Aquaponic Farm District. (Photo: Gail Wilson)

Who knew the best tomatoes in Joburg are growing on the roof of one of its largest malls?

Aquaponic garden
A better look at the garden.
Lettuce at Ichthys Aquaponic
Lettuces fed by fish poop.

The Aquaponic Farm District is an initiative by Ichthys Aquaponic. I hope they put one of these at every Joburg mall.

2) Walked Around Kingston Frost Park

Kingston Frost Park is in Brixton, about five minutes from my house, but I had never explored it properly until a few weeks ago. It’s a beautiful public park, lovingly maintained by the surrounding community, with a uniquely Brixton vibe about it. The park isn’t huge, but big enough for a good walk and great views. There’s a nice playground for kids.

Kingston Frost Park and Sentech Tower
Kingston Frost Park with the Sentech Tower looming behind it.
Kingston Frost Park mosaic
Mosaic in Kingston Frost Park
Mosaic in Kingston Frost Park
A mosaic created by the Brixton community.

City parks are technically closed during our current lockdown. But I drive past Kingston Frost often and the community is definitely using it. The park is on the edge of Brixton and Auckland Park, bordered by Putney Road, Barnes Road, Hampton Avenue, and Chiswick Street.

3) Hiked the Hennops Trail

I visited and blogged about the Hennops Trail once before during my #Gauteng52 series. I walked the five-kilometer trail that time. Last month I went back with Thorsten and hiked the 11-kilometer trail, which is infinitely more interesting and beautiful.

View of a nearby nuclear reactor, which I found eerily pretty, from the Hennops Trail.
Thorsten at Hennops
Foresty section of the trail.
Limekiln at Hennops
An old lime kiln we discovered along the trail.
Hennops

Hennops is about an hour from Joburg. If you go, definitely make a day of it and do the 11k trail. Just get there early to beat the heat and note there is a R150/person admission fee. Hennops has a really nice outdoor café now, which I don’t think was there when I went last time.

Ahhhhhh. I suspected writing about all these fresh, green, outdoor spaces would calm my nerves. I was right. I hope you’re feeling a bit calmer too. Now I need to find more green, anxiety-busting activities to write about — a new goal for 2021.

25 Comments

  1. Nancy McDaniel

    Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but I just wanted to say…….YOUR HAIR LOOKS GREAT (in the aquaponic farm photo). The tomatoes too.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Haha, thanks Nancy! A good hair compliment always matters.

      Reply
  2. Russell Pollitt

    Spot on about the sinking feeling today Heather. I woke up feeling exactly the same and felt rather blue all day. Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks Russell. I figured I probably wasn’t alone 🙂

      Reply
  3. dizzylexa

    Yeah I think we are all feeling anxious, scared and unsure. I’m trying to find some sort of direction under these extraordinary times we live in – not easy. Thanks for this blog it sure has lifted my spirits just remembering how delicious those cherry tomatoes were along with the other produce, I need to revisit.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I know, it already feels like so long ago!

      Reply
  4. maarten

    Heather, I really understand your anxious feelings when you woke up this morning. I’m back from a family trip overseas – Netherlands and in a 10 day quarantine with Anke. SA is heading to an enormous infection rate and a 3rd tsunami. Reading all the stats doesn’t make me happy. Knowing that SA still didn’t manage to buy vaccins makes things even worse. Europe is not better and the UK is a big big disaster at the moment with 1:30 people infected. We closed our doors after arrival back home in Melville. Only opened for shopping for the coming week. I also fear that we will get infected and that many of the people we know, we worked with or some of our friends will be infected. Even myself as part of the risk group 60+ don’t feel very comfortable but we are all in this together and let’s keep the spirit high and the energy high. We need each other strongly during this pandemic and we need to keep an eye on everybody around us.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Hi Maarten, I’m glad yo hear you made it back safely! I hope the trip was good despite all the pandemic stress. Definitely a bad situation basically everywhere.

      Reply
  5. AutumnAshbough

    I am sure the “coup in my hometown” is not helping your nerves.

    It’s not helping mine. I keep telling my kid he’s living through some extraordinary moments in history. But to him it’s just Monday, Trump is still destroying the country, and the Republicans are still letting him.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Nope, definitely not helping!

      Reply
  6. mvschulze

    Just a side note, as I’ve enjoyed following your adventures for quite some time, but had not been able to register a “like” for the past year or more. The problem was resolved recently, and am, as usual, looking forward to your continuing posts. M 🙂 (From NJ)

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Yay, glad it’s resolved!

      Reply
  7. violetonlineisonline

    I think we are all exhausted right now.
    I even miss the 6 to 9 am walks when we would have some kind of forced structure to our days. It’s like an endless fucking horizon out there.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I hear you on the 6-9 thing.

      Reply
  8. Lani

    It’s good that you got out, and really was out in nature. I’m envious! We were getting ready to head out after the holidays when our second lockdown went into effect so we never got to really leave.

    This time around felt different too. I wondered because it was the new year or the 2nd time that is what made it feel more UGH. Maybe it was that taste of freedom for a bit and feeling like we were heading back to ‘normal’. I don’t know. A few days ago I really felt low but then listening and reading positive things helps get yourself out of it. Now I feel like I’m sinking into the moment.

    Have you heard of The Fitness Marshall? He’s so funny and he does these crazy short dance workouts to pop songs.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/TheFitnessMarshall

    Take care, Heather! xo

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Oh wow, I haven’t heard of him! Sounds fun – will check it out. I’m loving the YouTube workout thing.

      Reply
      • Lani

        Me, too. It’s how I get my exercise! 😛

        Reply
  9. David Bristow

    That old lime kiln, I’m pretty sure lots of hominin remains from what is now the Cradle of Humankind would have been cremated there.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      I’m sure you’re right!

      Reply
  10. eremophila

    It’s really important that people continue to produce fresh food locally and avoid soylent green biscuits!

    Reply
  11. DAVIE FREEMAN

    I’m so glad you’re still healthy and well. I love keeping in touch with you this way. But I too feel like I’m in the movie “Groundhog Day”. Southern California is suffering the same fate.
    I hope you stay well and continue your fantastic writing! You’ve got a big fan in Anaheim!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Dave! It’s so nice to hear from you. And I hear you on the Groundhog Day analogy. The days are very long right now. Really hope you’re doing well. xxx

      Reply
  12. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Hang in there, we will get through this hopefully soon. 🤞
    Thought I’d share a couple places with you for when its safe visit again (if haven’t already)

    Monkey and Bird park is a hidden gem (look for the tiger)
    Le Kreamery (food and desert shop), disclaimer my friend is the owner, but without bias, the food is amazing.

    Both are in Benoni

    Ps. Hennops seemed much busier before the second wave hit, think people are looking for more outdoor places than before

    Here’s to hoping we read more about your adventures in a safer time very soon

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thank you so much!

      Reply

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