Autumn in Cape Town is special …
We live in this blessed Mediterranean climate, of dry summers and wet winters.
The winters are cool, sometimes in the early mornings they come close to touching zero but mostly they remain a handful of degrees above it
In February the first hints of the change of season appear, very subtle hints, you have to look carefully.
Days can be exceptionally hot but when it is crisp it is crisp.
Instead of a daily breeze or wind there are little runs of days without wind, the twilight mountain silhouettes deliver high resolution of even a solitary tree.
Towards the end of February you can see more definitive signs of the promise of Autumn.
Then as you start moving deeper into March so the signs are clear.
Those of you who like me come from hot humid tropical or sub tropical climes Autumn is special.
Your first true Autumn is like seeing snow for the first time.
Is that not interesting that Autumn is a missed season for many in the tropical and sub tropical zones?
In early March the leaves start falling … although they are aliens and ecologically incorrect we have many oak trees in the area, left overs of long gone wine estates, remnants of the nostalgic recollections of immigrants who arrived here, looking for solace in their long, often life long continental separation from their origins.
Along with the oaks are also many plane trees.
Leaves yellow, stiffen, and fall where the wind gathers them up, dancing them in whirls and twirls through the streets, front gardens, back gardens, roof tops, patios …
There is the amazing stretch of plane trees that I often drive through.
In Summer it is a green cathedral, thick with foliage, no blue sky above it.
In Winter there is no roof left, only the exposed flying buttresses of grey branches.
In Autumn, it is a cathedral of yellow and orange and blue sky.
Day in day out the sky increasingly bares itself, initially blue then increasingly less so as the rain clouds begin …
There is another place with a light green tree that has a radius of foliage of many car lengths.
Her leaves are soft flakes, not stiff, their rustle is of another sound, an echo of the grace of wind.
I read somewhere that the deciduous land belt in the Southern Hemisphere is limited relative to its Northern counterpart.
Northern Hemisphere autumns are bountiful, rich in colour, like say a heavy cabernet sauvignon wine.
Then here in the Southern Hemisphere, we would be like a light white wine, perhaps an un-oaked Chardonnay in lightness.
Even Chenin Blanc might be too emphatic as an analogy for our Autumn in Cape Town, too hard, as much as it has become one of my favourite table wines.
It is an understated Autumn we have here in Cape Town, a wisp of an Autumn, those who come from Europe or North America or Northern Asia might wonder why I am waxing lyrical about something that is almost a non-event.
Perhaps that is the beauty of a Cape Town autumn, it is there, graceful, you can feel it but it is not emphatic …
She leaves a sense of her, a scent of her, appears, disappears, a teasing trail of her footsteps tumbling in the roads, a larger patch of blue sky where previously only green, you almost know her, but not quite, she is almost as impossible to grasp as the wind …
Yet she is there, in the increasingly red dawns, the crispness of the morning air … and soon her role will be done, the winter rains will begin …
Copyright © 2015 G. Rigotti