Yes, other parts of the world are moving into winter. But we are the Antipodes, and we are on the cusp of summer.
Our neighbourhood has new colour, from the sun, re-painted verandas, and the flowers that have sprung up in unexpected places. My favourite harbinger of Spring is still the jacaranda tree – for the rest of the year, I hardly notice the trees that line the streets or the nearby university. Then, come November, every street corner has a tree sporting heavy clumps of purple flowers. When a road is lined with jacarandas that reach over the cars, pedestrians and bitumen towards each other, it can be a magnificent sight. (When still at university, the jacaranda was the much more terrifying harbinger of end-of-year exams and thesis. Nowadays, I can sit under the jacaranda near the Philosophy department and barely notice students run to and from the library. Ah, post-university adulthood.)
I particularly like the jacarandas on an overcast day, when the purple flowers become poignant, somehow, lending a mauve hue to the sky. Even the fallen flowers on the grass become more piercing to the eye. One rainy day, I saw a girl with a purple umbrella walking under a heavy canopy of purple flowers.
It was an instagram moment (if I used instagram).
With the temperatures rising, we are turning to pasta with lemony ricotta and basil instead of long braises. Likewise, slow holiday baking has taken a back seat to coconut-y lemon curd tarts. But for the past week, one particular cake on the list has been weaving its spell in my mind.
It’s the Tu B’shvat cake.