Sub-Saharan Africa’s seasons are, of course, opposite ours in the United States. As my U.S. family, friends, and colleagues have been sharing their woes about the cold and the snow, I have been doing my own share of whining about the heat here. In June, the weather will be getting cooler (but not cold), while my weather in Massachusetts will be on the way to warm and warmer.
I am enjoying my front porch today on this fine Late Summer Saturday!
This is the lovely view from my chair!
At the University of Malawi Chancellor’s College in Zomba where I am teaching, the first semester of the academic year started on February 1st and will end the second week in May. There will be a break and then the second semester will start on June 27th and run until some time in October. Between October and mid-January, students will be going home for their “summer” (our winter).
Another fine benefit of being in this part of the world is the fruit! I was thrilled to see my first banana tree and my first avocado tree, which are actually in my colleague’s yard!
Look how big those leaves are!
Although not yet ripe, all I could think about when looking at these avocados is the amazing guacamole I will make!
As usual with most things in life, something sad can be right around the corner from something cheerful. When I was leaving the open market in town, I came upon these little stray puppies (most dogs here are stray) in a trash heap. Dogs are called galu in Chichewa. Although I have gotten accustomed to seeing dogs who are needing to fend for themselves, this was my first encounter with puppies. It was so hard not to just scoop them up and take them to my house!
Nonetheless, the dogs and the puppies are resilient with an amazing amount of fortitude. They manage to carry on despite their challenging circumstances.
I have had a rich share of wild life in my own backyard here today as well. The doves here are very beautiful (nkhunda in Chichewa) and are also a popular “meal.” In the open market there are cages of them being sold, and I often see people carrying freshly killed ones home. But given recalcitrance of my cultural history, I can’t bring myself to eat a “dove.” So I feed them bread in my backyard. All I have to do is stand on my porch with a handful of bread and they come!
This “crow” has also become accustomed to my sharing of bread. I call these crows “oreo birds” because they are black with a stripe of white in the middle. They are actually Pied Crows (Corvus albus). The word in Chichewa for this very interesting bird is nkhwangwala. They are not eaten.
The last bit of excitement on the Late Summer Saturday was seeing a chameleon on my back porch! The word for it in Chichewa is nanzikambe. What was even more exciting was the fact that it was not afraid of me and I was able to take pictures as it moved from my porch into the garden. Seeing this creature (about 10 inches long) change colors before my eyes was truly a gift!
It attempted to enter my home, but I encouraged it not to do so. But its posture in this picture is endearingly cute. It is also getting a bit darker.
In its transition stage between my porch and garden, you can see the color patterns start to vividly change.
Here in the dirt the little guy’s green is surely morphing into brown.
In the last stage of color change, the chameleon is all black! And this all occurred within 5 minutes!
Although I was not able to capture it on video, a chameleon’s eye can rotate 360 degrees! Plus, they can use each eye independently (monocular vision) or use both at the same time (binocular). It was most peculiar to be close to my house guest and see the eyes rotate individually as I moved around taking pictures.