For someone who has lived almost their entire life on the bottom tip of Africa, surrounded by a buttocks-numbing icy ocean on the one side and a flat rock that had your back on the other, coming to America was an assault on the senses.
Living in Cape Town you are spoiled by all the natural beauty that surrounds you every day. Yet I managed to never lose the oh-shucks- it’s-purty feeling when coming over Kloof Neck and the whole of Camps Bay opened up like a bag of candy. Or watching dawn stirring to day, from the slopes of Table Mountain, while a caracul passes you by and hundreds of sugarbirds are feasting on the pincushions. It was, and still is, a magical place for me and will always but always, be the place that I call home.
I find myself in, very much, a non-destination part of the world currently. A big change from living in a bucket-list-tourism-driven city to a flyover piece of cultivated soil, better known as the Rust Belt. Charming. Does want to make you board a plane immediately and rush over to Ohio, doesn’t it?
I’ve been trying to live life for the last few years without expectations and thus far, have been pleasantly surprised more times than not. When I stepped off the plane in March of 2019, I was met with a dreary, brown, grey and chilly world that almost made me long for the howling southeaster that will blow you off your feet. It only took me the drive home from the airport to start seeing beauty in the starkness of the barren countryside.
In Cape Town we don’t really have seasons. We have summer which is filled with sunny days, traffic jams, sauvignon blanc and the aforementioned rude southeaster. Winter is known for mild temperatures, not so mild consumption of red wine, cloud pornography and rainy days. Autumn and spring is basically non-existent and in total lasts for about 3 and a half hours.
Ohio started charming me when she gave me the gift of cyclic life. Never have I experienced the ebb and flow of seasons until winter melted away into the luminous green and gentleness of spring; spring stepped aside for steamy summer with thunderous skies and the smell of ozone; summer disappeared into the colour-riot of autumn with leaves crunching under your feet on crisp, clear-blue-sky days. I’m about to welcome winter for the second time since arriving. It is a time of respite from the onslaught of smells and sounds that imbues the other seasons. It is a reset button.
The abundance of woods and water was the second offering I didn’t expect. I can drive 30 minutes in any direction and discover an untouched piece of wilderness far, far away from endless cornfields or bustling industry. Even the journey proves to be charming and full of surprising delights that is completely foreign to me. I take immense pleasure in the barns dotted everywhere, the horse and buggy I get stuck behind on a blind rise, the rolling hills, the ever changing sky.
It is a diverse landscape. From flat farmland with corn soldiers standing guard, valleys and hills with forests and waterfalls, glacier caves and ancient monoliths tucked away around a curve, all the way to the north where the wind whips up waves on the lake, big enough to surf.
What I’ve discovered so far in Ohio might possibly be just the beginning of a love affair with a non-place on the travel map. Does it give Cape Town a run for its money? Maybe just a teeny-tiny smidge…now, if it had that big, flat rock, throw in a few quality wine farms and my hair stylist, we might have a serious contender.
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