Spring has sprung! The days are starting earlier and ending later as we shrug off the grey clouds of winter, emerging from our cocoons, and - if you live on planet earth - Lockdown 2020 which has taken a toll on everyone. So let’s do stuff!
Well we could begin and end this list right here, with a Gin & Tonic. But seriously, even if you don’t have an awe-inspiring view from your front lawn or balcony (after all most of us are real people), how far away are you from a place to watch a sunset? A beach; a hill; a rooftop; the top of a car park; an open stretch of veld? Pack a ‘Sunset Go Pack’ in your car with a jersey, a small blanket, a glass or two, and a flask of your favourite refreshment (this is where the G&T comes in!). Do you have to be sitting in traffic, taxi creeping up closer behind you, the guy cutting in in front of you, inching along to the droning voice of the radio DJ? No! Take the next exit and head out, find your spot, pull out your ‘Go Pack’, sit down, and exhale. The magic of a sunset is about to begin.
Walk, walk, and walk! Better still if you have a dog. Walking will lift your spirits, benefit your heart, improve your sleep, strengthen your muscles, support your joints, and help you to lose weight. Your 30-minute walk is a wonderful opportunity to sort through ‘brain clutter’ and calm your thoughts. Open yourself to creatively solving any issues that are nagging at you, and if you have a life partner, time to chat and catch up, away from the routines of domestic life.
Get your fingers in the soil! Spring is the most exciting time of year in the garden as new buds start to flower, green shoots appear almost overnight through the earth and the warm spring rain seems to turbocharge plants. This is the time to sow seeds, herbs like rocket, basil, and coriander in pots. Companion plant some veggies - carrots, runner beans, and radish are a win. For a riot of colour in your garden plant summer flowering bulbs like tiger lilies and our indigenous watsonias. Tidy up beds, feed and mow the lawn. Spring gardening is the gift that keeps on giving right into summer.
Many of us dread that time of day, late afternoon, kids need to bath, pets are hungry, the family is hungry, homework needs to be checked, TV blaring - some call it suicide hour. Prepare and pack a simple meal of roast chicken pieces (yes, you are allowed to get takeaways), bread rolls and salad or for a vegetarian option, deep-fried Halloumi cheese and salad wraps. Pack a picnic basket and head for the hills - ok, realistically, your closest outdoor picnic spot, it may even be under a tree at the bottom of the garden, with a rug on the ground and don’t forget to pack the glass jars in case the fireflies come out. And the mozzie spray, don’t forget the mozzie spray.
Wash Your Car
There is something deeply therapeutic and satisfying about cleaning, even if you hate it. So wash your car, it’s outdoors - and all the cupboards in the house were cleaned and sorted during three hundred and eleventy days of lockdown. If you need to get excited about it go and buy one of those big, really big sponges form a DIY store - get some tyre wax, while you are there, and do a number on your car. You are outside, you are saving money, there’s that satisfaction - oh and you just found the scrunchy you lost a year ago.
Who doesn’t love a road trip? Keep it simple, head out early on a Saturday morning (suns up at 5:30 am) and drive. Have brunch and a late lunch before heading home. Go with the flow, the road less travelled or get onto Google maps and Tripadvisor, whatever you are happy with because happiness is the key! If you are in the Western Cape, all the flowers are in bloom so head up the West Coast. For Durbanites, one hour out of Durbs and you are at the foothills of the Drakensberg. Gautengers, get up extra early and drive, drive to Cape Town - ok, I’m kidding, we all know it's the Magalies Meander.
You know you have always wanted to. The pottery class; learning to play golf; yoga class; learning to speak Spanish; the writers’ course; the cooking class - just do it! Whether it is online (really popular and cost-effective these days) or onsite. Mostly, it will be one hour of your day that you give back to you. Beer brewing, now there’s an option! Being able to play ‘Knocking on Heavens Door’ on guitar, there is an online course for that. How about a scuba diving course? Or learn how to make soap - actually, I love making it for you.
Get out and about, safely. After many months of restricted movement, many of us want to just get out! But let’s do it safely for the sake of ourselves, our loved one’s and our community. We are not out of the woods yet but many local restaurants, museums, markets and events do need support. Check your local paper or online for events and venues in your community. Outdoors should always be the first option like your local Saturday morning market, a restaurant that can offer outdoor seating or a museum or gallery that has a large space to wander around in. The Norval Foundation in Steenberg, Cape Town has a sculpture garden and open spaces that combine the experience of art and nature.
Set your alarm for one hour earlier. Yes, really. In winter we just want to hang onto that duvet for 10 minutes longer, it’s dark, it’s cold. But that’s all over, the sun is up, what are you still doing in bed?? Wake up and get up with the sunrise. Make a great cup of coffee, or tea and find a ‘morning spot’ in your home or on your veranda - you must be able to see or feel the sun rays. While sipping your coffee, have a book and pen ready - and just start writing. Start a journey by just writing down your thoughts in the morning, whatever pops into your head, even if it’s just “Buy better coffee”. No need to judge or impress, this is your time.
This year, 2020, has been hard for many people, every one of us to some extent has been affected. If anything, we should be mindful of the fact that whatever we have been through or whatever we are facing there is always someone grateful for our help. How do we help? We give an hour of our time. Does a soup kitchen need your help, they have an enormous task at hand. Is there a local kids sports group that could do with an hour of coaching? Are you able to help an elderly person in your community with grocery shopping? Can you offer professional support to a person who is trying to kickstart a business in very trying times? Does a friend who is urgently job hunting need you to watch her kids for an hour so that she can go to an interview?
Sunlight offers so many benefits to our lives, let's make the best of it by caring for ourselves and our community, let’s add value to our lives simply by harnessing that one hour a day and let's have fun doing it.