Down to the wire – Springtime in Lesotho

Maggie Day - Lesotho VolunteerSpring is here.  We are no longer just off freezing, in the house and out, from sunset to sunrise.  Without electricity the sounds and activities of quotidian village life move with natural light and shortly after sunset peace reigns.   Aggressive dogs excluded, of course, darkness is their time.   Eventually even the dogs settled down and those winter nights were long, cold and quiet.

After a candle-lit dinner I too would settle, into multi-layers of blankets, wearing multi-layers of clothing plus wool cap, thick socks and even gloves on especially cold nights.  After an hour or so of reading by head-lamp I’d enjoy 10 hours of sleep or more each night.   Just one more treat of my experience here for someone who was lucky to get 6 hours sleep per night in my “traditional” life.

Those “long winter’s naps” are now a memory, as the warmth is returning and the sun spends more and more time with us, extending work, play and visit time into ever-longer leisurely stretches.  The sun now rises just past 5:15 which means the morning symphony starts around half past 4:00.  The first movement opens with the crowing of roosters, followed by a play of bells as Herders and their stock head out from home-kraals down to the river and up to the mountains for a day of food and drink.   Women move early to get buckets in the Water Tap queue, when it is running.  I always skip dipping from the over-night collection bucket as I’ve seen sheep, donkeys, dogs, etc.  sipping from that in early morning hours, and before 6am the day is in full swing with cooking fires going, clothes washing underway, students heading out to school, men walking out to the fields, people visiting, greeting, laughing, singing and calling to one another across the hillsides.

Basotho shepards herding sheep in Lesotho

Sheep on the move

Last summer I had visitors knocking on my door to visit before 5am!  There’s no doubt that you doesn’t live alone in a Lesotho village, when the sun-driven life starts each day you need to get up and get moving.

Other signs of spring are large flocks of sheep at the shearing sheds waiting to be shorn of their winter coats by men using blade or scissor shears, and the tilling and planting of the fields (masimo in Sesotho) with maize and sorghum using cow-powered plows and seeders, both practices are as I imagine it has been done here for generations.

As the evenings lengthen we are now enjoying some amazing sunsets to the sounds of the herds returning and the kids playing in the fading light.  And I’m often reminded of one of my favorite lines in literature by Joseph Conrad, “The day was ending in serenity of still and exquisite brilliance.”  This is my second springtime in Lesotho.  I was a bit overwhelmed round one, this time I’m noticing and enjoying every moment.

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