This morning I awoke to a beautiful autumn day in Pretoria. The sky was blue without a cloud in sight. The sun was warming the earth after a night that had somewhat of a chilly bite. On the way to work I noticed some coloured leaves among a sea of green after the good rains we had this summer. Oh what a lovely day! Doesn’t Pretoria have the best weather in the world!
I know one does not normally answer a rhetoric question, but, I thought, let me check with a few friends who have moved to find greener pastures elsewhere. And this is what they said.
Emsie told me about their warm welcome but cold arrival in Canada some years ago: “We stepped out of the terminal building into a wind chill of minus thirty degrees Celsius. Our very warm, South African bought, down-filled, fleece-lined winter jackets were no protection against the knock-out cold that greeted us! That first winter seemed to last an eternity. We took a multitude of photos, which we proudly mailed to our relatives in South Africa, cautiously boasting about how well we are adjusting (although, many a day, we didn’t even believe this ourselves).”
However, despite the shocking cold every winter she finds joy in capturing “the stunning, awe-inspiring beauty of winter in the exquisite shapes of the snowflakes, and the vast stretches of every shade of white when the lake was frozen as far as the eye can see. Every year I marvel at the first signs that winter is drawing to a close, when the ice starts to crack, sculpting interesting ice shapes everywhere. Witnessing how the warm colours of the setting sun transform the multitude of transparent ice figurines into a magical winter wonderland, lends a whole new meaning to the adjective “breath-taking”. All winter long my delicate optimism is sustained by the surprising images I capture through the lens.”
Louise from England responded reminiscing about a cold, dark, wet winter’s day in London, but then the joy when spring arrives: “Glorious sunrise over Putney bridge as I open the curtain. It’s perfect weather for a bike ride to Richmond Park. The air is sweet with roses rambling over old stone walls. The whole city is in sport shoes! Moms pushing prams, toddlers on scooters, serious runners, cyclists in shorts and thousands of dogs with their owners! Everybody is outside.” Winter is past!
A friend from the Arabian Gulf shared her experience of summer: “It gets quite hot here. Not even the shade is cool. The water from the cold tap is warm. So you cannot even take a cold shower to cool down. During the warmest month the water in the Arabian Gulf is too hot for swimming. Fortunately we have air-conditioning everywhere which makes indoor life quite comfortable.”
I had hoped to once-and-for-all confirm that South Africa, despite all its messiness and trouble, has the best weather in the world. However, talking to my friends faced with extreme cold, extreme wetness and extreme heat, I realized that every place or season or situation has its own challenges and beauty.
Thank you to Emsie, Louise and Ida who shared their experiences, and who reminded me that our happiness is not dependent of external things like the weather, but on our internal things like our own attitude. What we experience, is our choice – be it wonder at the beauty and uniqueness of each season, be it acceptance of harsh conditions, be it finding joy in small things, be it living with a positive attitude and thankfulness despite doom and gloom around us. Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Author: Erica Ferreira
The author is an IT specialist who writes from time to time just for the fun of it.