A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
ABOUT ME ABOUT THE SMOKE SMOKE A-Z

SMOKE: Hello, Summer!

Originally published: 12 September 2005

I'm a winter person. Always have been; always will be.

But at the end of a long, soggy, stuffed-into-jerseys winter I too look forward to summer with a certain fond nostalgia, as though all those memories of ice-cream cones on sunny piers were A. pleasant, and B. mine.

They weren't. On either score.

Still - I've been working through the night quite a lot recently and as such have been watching with interest the changing of the seasons, right before my eyes.

It all starts with the birds. Those damnable, damnable birds.

The sound of birds tweeting in the early hours is one I dread, fear and loathe like no other. It signifies to me that the night is coming to an end and I have not yet been to bed, and when I do eventually make it to bed I know I'm going to have to bury my head under a pillow to drone out that terrible cacophony of evil.

About a week or so ago I heard one experimental tweet while it was still pitch black outside, and it was a lot earlier than it has been through the winter.

In the winter the birds tend to only start tweeting when the horizon turns to grey, but in summer they're up well before the sun even thinks of making a hungover appearance.

There was silence for a few minutes after that solitary tweet as the other birds woke up, held an impromptu meeting at which it was decided unanimously that summer was here, and lined up with megaphones on the telephone wire behind my house.

Then they let rip, and summer was officially here. If I had a shotgun I'd have used it and to hell with silly urban gun laws.

But yesterday (Sunday) was when summer officially broke in Cape Town. It wasn't the searing heat of January or February, but there was enough sun about for me to wear a t-shirt indoors, which is not something I've done since about April.

And the washing got dry - in winter you hang it out and even if the sun is shining it doesn't dry. Imagine my thrill, therefore, when I checked it in the evening and it was driza bone.

Then imagine my horror at being thrilled about dry washing. It has to be a warning sign of something - of what I know not. But that's just ridiculous, man - I should be getting excited by many things no doubt, but one thing I should never be excited about is washing.

Still - there you have it. It's just that when you crave nothing more than dry socks and crustless underwear, washing that dries in a day becomes exciting.

There's a whole lightening of the general atmosphere that happens during this transitional phase between seasons. People are still arseholes - sure - but they're slightly less arseholish about it than when they have the excuse of a miserable, cold day.

There's a faint laughter about and neighbourhood soundbytes are on the increase. The tinkling of the ice cream dude can be heard once more (I have no idea how he makes a living in the winter), radios get turned up that little bit louder, dogs are finding more to bark about and the general hum of insect life increases in the garden.

A massive bee flew into the study on Sunday and it's been many a month since I've had to play a high-stakes game which involves avoiding the killer bee, trying to hustle it out and saving it from certain death at the paws of TBD.

The more I roar at the dog to leave it alone the more she sees it as her duty to silence the motherfucker - permanently. Problem is: the last time she silenced one her face swelled up to double its normal size, she couldn't breathe for six hours and blamed the entire thing on me.

It's a scenario I'm keen to avoid repeating.


It wasn't that bad this time though - with our new wooden floors the dog has absolutely zero grip. She's like The Road Runner when she tries to get going quickly - her paws scrabble madly for purchase on the smooth floors and they churn around frantically until she finally gets some forward motion.

I half expect her to take a leap off the couch and run a few steps in mid-air before she plummets to the floor, just like a cartoon character.

The bee was a lot more mobile than her and she spent most of her time alternating between madly scrabbling and getting nowhere and sitting staring at me and whining, as though I was going to help her in any way.

Every five minutes now she takes a large snap at either a passing fly or a figment of her disturbed imagination - I've yet to figure out which it is. Probably flies, though - last summer we had an epidemic and I fear the worst for this year.

But the best thing about this newfound sense of fun and laughter that is creeping back into our once-dreary world is the hotties. Summery, Claremont hotties, dude - thousands and thousands of them.

One day it's winter and everyone moping about and generally hating and the next it's hotties by the thousand, walking past my house in single file in the sun. All summery and sweet and lovely. Bouncing a little, even.

Ah, what the hell - it's just a feeling. They call it summer, and it's here.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
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Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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