Defend Truth


Man Friday: Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks (but let me first check to see if you’re here yet)


Tony Weaver is a freelance photo-journalist, environment writer, columnist and editor.

When I was a child, my father would plan our fishing trips around the rise and fall of the barometer. He would tap the glass, and pronounce ‘the barometer’s falling, big weather coming, the fishing’s going to be good’. Or, ‘the glass is really high, no fish this weekend’.

First published in Die Burger

I started writing this column on my stoep on Friday afternoon, tucked into a corner out of the wind and rain while, all around me, a weather bomb slammed through the Western Cape.

I love weather. The bigger the better. I would find it hard to live in a house from which you can’t see the weather. We have lived in four houses in the past 30 years, first a little cottage tucked into the milkwood forest in Noordhoek. We had a sweeping view all the way to the Slangkop lighthouse and would watch the winter northwester storms dance across the landscape.

Then Kommetjie, and a view from Slangkop back to Chapman’s Peak, and then moved even further south, to Misty Cliffs, the most spectacular weather-watching site of all. In late summer, vast displays of lightning danced across the bay; we huddled as the winter storms turned the sea into a deadly maelstrom.

Now, from our suburban home in Little Mowbray, we look out on a panorama that stretches from Signal Hill to Skeleton Gorge, and in many ways it has the best weather vista of the lot. We mark the passage of the cold fronts by the rain over Lion’s Head, then Devil’s Peak, the wind bombs slam in from the north west, we can smell the sea as the storm picks up momentum.

When I was a child in Somerset West, my father would plan our fishing trips around the rise and fall of the barometer. Every morning, he would tap the glass, and pronounce, “the barometer’s falling, big weather coming, the fishing’s going to be good”. Or, “the glass is really high, no fish this weekend”.

Now I fire up my laptop and call up my two favourite weather sites, Windguru and WindyTV.

But even without Windguru and WindyTV, I would have known the weather was coming. My barometer was dropping, I could see the change in the cloud patterns, the seagulls were flocking above our house several kilometres from the sea.

Talking of technology, and nothing to do with weather, my old friend Margaret Jacobsohn has written a beautiful memoir, “Life is like a Kudu Horn (Jacana) about her life developing community conservation in Namibia with her partner, Garth Owen Smith. It is destined to be a classic in the annals of African conservation, a must-read for those who know and love Namibia.

She writes, “It’s more exciting to try to catch poachers than to work towards stopping poaching – the latter involving a long, slow process of winning the apathetic or unknowing majority and getting them on-side. Community meetings under trees; building unity and creating coalitions of communities, conservancies, traditional leaders, NGOs and government…

All this is boring compared to chasing poachers and playing with drones and technology. It is the former ‘boring’ approach which, certainly in north-west Namibia, has stopped rhino poaching in recent years, as it did in the ‘80s….

(Technology) can provide no lasting solutions to what is in essence a people problem, requiring attitude and behavioural transformations.

Community-based action can change our world. It may be all that can.”

Yes, technology is an essential tool, but looking out my window, tapping my barometer and listening for the seagulls is often a more accurate tool than calling up Windguru and WindyTV. DM


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted