04 July 2011 by Chris Marais

Karoo - Christmas in July

I’m looking out my office window at the distant mountains surrounding the Swaershoek Valley here outside Cradock in the Karoo Heartland, and I know something’s up.

It’s freezing cold, there’s moisture in the air and my old bones - especially the ones that got jangled during schoolboy rugby days - are beginning to ache. Everyone in town is scurrying around like Oros Men, round shapes and scarves flying. I’ve already cut the fingertips off my gloves, so I can wear them while typing.

Yes, it’s Snowtime in the Karoo, folks. The fireplaces are all stacked with cut wood and fire lighters, waiting for the evening match. Tomorrow morning we’re going to wake up and there will be snowcaps on all the hills. The road to Graaff-Reinet will be closed, the lucky few who got through will be making snowmen on the Wapad Berg Pass. We’ll probably run our long-haired German Shepherd TwoPack out on the Hofmeyr road, where snowdrifts pile up and big dogs like to play.

Tourists who don’t know of the wanders of a Snowy Karoo are the poorer for it.

I grew up all my life in South Africa and never knew that much of the country, in winter, resembles snow scenes from the USA or Europe. Now I’m living in snow country - and loving it.

As long as the diesel engine on my bakkie eventually lights up in the morning, as long as the industrial strength wellies from the farmer’s co-op don’t spring a leak, as long as I can find my beanie and as long as my wife Jules keeps brewing her wicked stews and soups, I will always be a fan of a Karoo winter. It’s just like Christmas in July…

Category: Culture & History

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