I woke up early this morning and padded downstairs on bare feet – the Spring we have been missing is finally here! As I opened the curtains I looked out onto the field and small wood adjacent to our house and saw the wood was completely obscured by the thick mist hanging over the field. Above and to the right I could see some blue sky peering hesitantly through the mist with the promise of sunshine.
As always, that thick inversion layer took me straight back to childhood and family holidays. It happens often when you drive into the Karoo. More than once, as we began winding up a treacherous pass after setting out on a long car trip early in the morning, I remember my father pointing into a valley and explaining how inversion layer happened and why it looked like there was a thick cloud nestling over the fields and towns below. As the slender fingers of the early morning sun begin to stroke the Earth, there is a magical moment when the air begins to warm faster than the ground below it, causing everything to flip over for a while and the misty cloud to hug the ground until the sun is high enough, strong enough, to warm the soil.
It can be quite eerie sometimes: on a school excursion once, we had to walk out to a game reserve near the town and we broke through the inversion layer quite suddenly. It was like emerging instantly from misty Autumn into full Summer. We peeled off layers, suddenly panting in the heat, the tiny droplets of moisture evaporating from our hair. Behind us we left the thick hush of civilisation and walked into the tall, dry grass, half hopeful, half fearful of stumbling past the huge White Rhino we knew was there.