Operation Oysterhood: Day Seventy-Eight

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks


A witch at work.

Fourteen degrees in my kitchen. I don’t expect more before mid-August. Hello, Winter! Last night, it was so cold inside and still so miserable outside that I made myself some grzane piwo (hot beer) according to an old family recipe. Although I suspected it, I wasn’t entirely sure whether this crazy drink had Polish origins. It does. We have been brewing and drinking this stuff for centuries, it seems. It is very healthy, my research has assured me.


It definitely made me warm and sleepy. And it will be enjoyed again! My Hoghouse beer stash is going to keep me warm, falling asleep and healthy for a while.

Being cold brings with it many memories from our migratory years when we were often so poor and desperate that we lived in unlivable places and suffered quite a lot in the process. Our parents tried what they could to keep us safe and going, but it wasn’t always easy. I remember cutting up and folding discarded boxes, which Vatko brought from work, into improvised ‘bricks’. We burned them through the nights in a small wood stove Vatko installed in the main room of the ancient, damp ruin of a house we were renting back then. We could afford the rent because there was no central heating in the house, a standard in most Austrian homes. During the first two winters, we all slept on mattresses around the small stove until Vatko finally installed central heating (he did it all by himself, from scratch, after studying manuals!).

I could never afford to heat the ancient Victorian house I live in with central heating, even if I had it. These gorgeous, spacious houses with their high ceilings were made for the Cape summers; they keep the heat out even at the height of the warm season. In winter, they turn into fridges with fireplaces. And straying away from a fireplace is only recommended on sunny winter days when you can be all warm and cosy outside the house – something that is very difficult to explain to people from elsewhere.

There was a brief break in the rainy, cloudy day this morning and I was lucky enough to have ventured out for my walk at exactly the right time. It was the only thing I did other than work today, with Glinka joining me next to the fire again in the afternoon. My polar bear suit is a lifesaver right now.

I only slept until five a.m. this morning, so coffee was my companion through most of the day. It is nice to be able to make it in the bedroom. Apart from watching TV (Carter tonight and NZ rugby in the morning – YAY!), I only leave the room for cooking in the kitchen. I had to do some admin work at my desktop computer earlier tonight and nearly froze my nose off. It’s the combination of sitting still and the cold. But: one gets used to it!

I heard yesterday about someone I know – he was in a small town in the Western Cape for the lockdown, had been super careful about masks, hand washing and social distancing, but when he had to do the Covid-19 test for professional reasons, it turned out to be positive. No symptoms yet, perhaps none at all ever – hopefully. But he got infected despite serious precautions!

I sometimes wonder about those moments of inattention that happen to us no matter how careful we are. It’s so easy to slip. You can’t be vigilant at all times. I think of all the runners who passed me today without masks and hope that at least my mask and navigating skills have protected me from their carelessness.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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