We've reached the end of September, and spring is in full swing. The Covid lockdown has lasted 6 months, and about 10 days ago here in South Africa it went from Level 2 to Level 1, but I wasn't even aware of that for about a week. The syringa trees are in full bloom, and its only when they are in bloom that you realise how many of them there are in our neighbourhood.
|Syringa tree across the road, seen from our bedroom|
The syringa trees, with their pale blue flowers, are forerunners of the jacarandas, with their deeper blue, which appear about a fortnight later. The one in the picture above is over the road from us, near the railway line. There used to be several syringa trees over there, but most of them were chopped down by a mad axeman a few years ago -- see Mystery tree feller | Notes from underground
The thorn tree in the corner of our garden is also blooming, and it's only when they bloom with their yellow flowers that you notice how many of them there are in the neighbourhood.
|Our garden in spring, with blooming thorn tree|
The syringa on the left is in a neighbour's garden across the road.
Yesterday was our wedding anniversary, so we went for tea at Cafe 41, where, before the lockdown, we used to hold our literary coffee klatches, and discuss theology and literature. -- see here Genius, shades, ancestors and more | Notes from underground. But since this time last year two of our regular members, Tony McGregor and David Levey, have died, and as we sat there I felt their ghosts haunting the place with fleeting snatches of old conversations. Even if the lockdown ended with Level 0, I doubt that we could recapture those days in their absence.
We went on to Rutland Books, a marvelous second-hand book shop where I had previously found a book I had been looking for for 20 years, Orientalism by Edward Said, which is said to be the key to the mystery of postcolonialism. This time I took a list of books I wanted, that I haven't been able to find in other book shops or libraries, but sadly none of them were there.
We came home to our favourite syringa tree, no longer being stripped bare by the mad axeman. Bit just beyond were the posts that used to hold the catenary wire for the electric trains, stripped bare by cable thieves -- see Stripped bare: Looting till there is nothing left of Gauteng's rail network. About twice a week during the Covid lockdown the dogs would bark, and there would be gun battles between police and security companies and cable thieves. Occasionally one would be arrested, but there were always plenty of others to take their place.
In our area most of this looting took place during the lockdown, when passenger trains stopped running, but the main line between Pretoria and Johannesburg (and Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town) was stripped of wires several months before the lockdown began. I don't recall seeing any news items about this before yesterday's Daily Maverick article. But this must also be added to the cost of the lockdown, and what has happened to the jobs of those who were employed by the railways? Where are they all? It is the kind of damage that one expects to be inflicted in war time, only it is far more extensive.