Last January I lamented the hot dry summer we’d had. Little did I know that this summer would be worse. I’m not so convinced about the heat, but then I may be acclimatising. Villagers and The Husband’s records suggest so. The wind, too, has blown so everything’s been windburnt, sun-scorched and dusty. Then, of course, there was the fire. No matter what one does, everything is gritty, and even the contents of the display cabinet that hardly gets opened boasts a thick layer of dust. And the voile curtains don’t bear thinking about.
I can’t remember when last we had “proper” rain.
Oh, there’s been plenty of promise.
The clouds danced on the Langeberg mountains last October, laughed at us and dropped their load somewhere else.
In January, this glowering cloud thundered around the village, tantalising us with just a few drops that registered nothing in the rain gauge. Then, on Saturday evening, at the end of a balmy autumn day, we watched the lightening jig around us, accompanied by the odd, distant drum roll. Gradually the drum rolls came closer and the lightning brighter. For a while, though, we lost interest: dinner was a little more pressing and there was a fire of a different sort that required attention.
Mercifully, and because autumn evenings can turn quite chilly, I’d resolved that we’d not have dinner under the trees. A good thing, too, because as we sat down to eat, the heavens opened. It rained for the first time in months – proper rain, we all agreed. I don’t remember too much of the conversation over our main course: we were all grinned stupidly at each other, and raised our voices over the din of the rain thundering on the veranda’s iron roof, to toast blessings from heaven.
In the space of about 20 minutes, about 8 millimetres of rain fell on our parched garden and village.
After dinner, we walked our guests to the gate and noticed what looked like the remains of a small riverbed that had forged a course down the driveway. In the moonlight, after a good meal and a few glasses of even better wine, we didn’t pay it much leave. On Sunday morning, though, about 12 hours after that cloudburst, camera in hand, I went to look. The driveway had, indeed, played host to a not-so-small stream. Wet mud was still lying on the tarmac on the street corner, and the sun glistened off the little puddles that remained on the gravel road opposite our house.
The air was clear, the hills and mountain ranges, slightly misty. The dust was gone and our village was sparkly clean in the morning light.
Mr Sunbird was so happy about the dust-free Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis), that he was oblivious to the camera.
Under the trees from which raindrops had hung diamond-like, the night before, a perfect web.
Best of all though, were the elliptical, crystal drops of water, still clinging to some of the leaves.