I remember regular power cuts in the Eastern Cape as a small child. My mother was always prepared - lamps, cooked food. It was exciting going to bed with a candle, not having to bath. That feeling lingers a little with the blackouts we've been having here over the past few days. I'll never forget walking through the quiet streets of Tamboerskloof some years ago and looking up at the apartment blocks with candles burning in the windows. No street lights, no music. Just the soft yellow glow and the murmuring of voices.
On Eskom's website you can look up the rolling blackout schedule for your suburb or village. I type in Fish Hoek and it charitably suggests, for two separate days: load shedding will occur between 06h30-22h30.
"Wet coal" they say. This is Africa you know.
The magic eight ball knows all.
Maybe if I was the one with the chest freezer full of ice cream for a commercial in the morning I'd be more upset. The city seems so far away here. Only forty minutes if there's no traffic, but I have to steel myself when I need to go there - plan ahead, pack a special bag.
Where I lived before, on the third and fourth floors of a city bowl apartment block, there were hardly any insects.
Birds sang in the trees, but I never saw them.
Here I have a partner in insomnia - the owl between one and four. There is a palm tree brimful of jabbering starlings and there are bats at dusk. Rock pigeons duckwalk down the hip to look at me hanging up the washing. I see their comical pink feet through the sheer roof sheets of the lean-to. They cock their heads and look at me with a beady eye, always hopeful for more chico mix under the tree. Hadedas poke holes in the potted plants with their long beaks. When I go out the back door, they look up at me - affronted that I dare to intrude. Goggas! Spiders, crickets and bugs everywhere. Caterpillars turn a deaf ear to the shriek of a woman - they scorn garlic spray and nibble green tomatoes. (Cameo appearance by striped lizard.)
What I thought was an electrical fault - the driveway gate repeatedly opening by itself - turns out to be the work of geckos on the circuit board.
"And if the world went to hell in a handbasket - as it seemed to be doing - you could say good bye to everyone and retreat to your land, hunkering down and living off it."
- Jeanette Walls, Half Broke Horses