Do we hate spring?
I am well aware that the official start of spring is September 1. That, however, didn’t stop me from declaring August 1 as the “new spring” on my morning radio show.
I assumed that listeners would get behind the concept and not only embrace the fact that the sun is shining; but that there are blossoms on some early adopting trees and that despite the early winter that the EFF seems determine to usher in, there are many reasons to bask in the warmth of South Africa’s rays.
They hated the idea.
It made them angry, slightly abusive, and it did so to a point beyond eloquence.
In no time at all, the SMS line became a cacophony of capital letters, exclamation marks and unmannerly comments. It seemed to frustrate them more than the prospect of land expropriation without compensation does.
Nothing I said could convince them to re-examine a truth that they felt comfortable with.
They would not rewrite the lessons of their questionable past and they would not open this up to debate. September 1 is spring and that is that.
So, I tried an alternative track: “September 1 is a colonial construct,” I suggested, tentatively at first and then more confidently as I warmed up to the idea.
“It is based on a European notion that forces us to conform to a Eurocentric calendar not of our making. This is Africa!” I suggested. “It’s time we take back our weather and give it to the month that was disposed!”
I was a heartbeat away from playing Shakira or even Toto’s Africabut at that moment I felt it might have been too much for them to bear.
And so, I was forced to concede failure. August 1 might be spring for me, but no one else was buying what I was selling. No one was picking up what I was putting down.
August, I realised, would never see the spring.
We are often told that there are those who see the glass as either half full, half empty or even refillable. There are those who determine the weather as being partly cloudy and there are those who see it as partly sunny.
Those who love the power of the thunder and those who fear it. Those who dance in the rain and those who hide from it.
There are those who see the infinite possibilities of what South Africa has to offer and those who see only the potholes on the road in front of them.
My interaction with my listeners that morning was fascinating to me — and somewhat perplexing.
In the few hours that followed my show I grappled with the question of why there was such a tremendous resistance to embracing something positive and yet inconsequential.
Why would they not have chosen to rejoice in the sunshine along with me?
I wondered if it wasn’t a reflection of the insecurity that some South Africans are feeling and an illustration of the fear that at the moment anything that they might have counted on could be changed.
Like land ownership.
I wondered if the anger wasn’t displaced and if it was more of a reaction to the other changes that they might fear in the country, but that they can do little about.
Another possibility is that we are more comfortable in the “winter”. That maybe it is easier to be negative and to be a victim of the cold than to embrace the sun and be deprived of the excuse.
Perhaps it is easier to complain than to praise and maybe we have become accustomed to that. Maybe spring is a bit scary, and so it is better to delay its arrival as long as possible.
Either that or I just irritated them.
I suspect that there is a winter lover in all of us. I suspect that we fear change and that we are a little petrified to have no excuse for our negativity.
Either way, I celebrated the glorious day that was August 1 in Johannesburg, and invite anyone who is brave enough to join me in celebrating spring.
• Howard Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightropeand the daily breakfast show presenter on Chai FM.