Things I love about Johannesburg winter

It doesn’t have snow, and it doesn’t rain for three months, but there are some things that make Johannesburg Joburg. Here are my top three things about it which I love:

1 – Dry Bush Veld

The crunchy sound it makes when you walk over it. The yellow pale bleakness which it paints across the parks, suburbs and grassy areas of the highveld and surrounds is an acquired taste, to be sure, but my gods it’s the epitome of this area!

Thats not me, but it could be any Joburg kid in winter

That's not me, but it could be any Joburg kid in winter

2 – Plovers

Guard your children!

Guard your children!

Plovers and I go way back. When we were kids playing in the field next to the Alexandra township, or arriving at the soccer field up the road, there would always be hordes of plovers guarding their nests like bloody-crazed hellbirds from the abyss, flying straight at any child who dared wander too near. I only found out in my adulthood that they charge anyone. Children are just softer targets. Plovers are Joburg’s way of telling you to bleddy well pasop (beware)!

3 – Oak and Itchy-ball trees

Best used in anger, not defense.

Best used in anger, not defense.

The trees in Autumn and winter turn the obligatory orange and yellow, before finally getting naked for the winter months. But in Joburg, the oak and “itchy ball trees” were the most distinguishing plant feature of this season. I say “itchy ball” tree purely because I have absolutely no idea what they’re really called. But I can tell you that, as kids, we used to take great satisfaction in putting these down other peoples’ shirts and rubbing it in good, creating the kind of itchiness normally reserved for flea-bitten prisoners and hobos. Not so much fun when it happens to you, but otherwise hilarious.

And there it is! Johannesburg in winter (and as it gets into the mood for winter) is something not to be missed. I love it, and then hate it, and then miss it when the sweaty-ass of spring rears its ugly head. It’s something I loved as a kid, missed as a teacher in Japan, and relish as a Joburg resident now.

Song of the day: Something I fell in love with many years ago, Laura Veirs – Galaxies

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