Thursday, 16 February 2012

Long rains

 The Saturday deadline for completing our new visitors’ centre is rapidly approaching. One of the classrooms is full of settees and chairs and we have another room crammed with bed frames, mattresses and seat cushions. I'm starting to feel like the owner of one of those Mediterranean hotels from a number of years ago, when tourists were flocking to holiday destinations to find that the hotel they had booked was actually a building site. I am confident that everything will be ready for our first visitors this year by Saturday morning, but it could be a bit touch and go.

I am now, officially, really excited about the weather. I promise not to go on about it after today, (unless we have a major weather event), but …… this evening we had the first proper rain since last December. I have written before about the practicality of the climate around Kosele – sun during the day, rain mostly during the evening. Tonight’s rain fitted the pattern perfectly. A strong breeze at around 6 p.m. to advertise the rain then a steady, (but not torrential), downpour for about an hour and a half. The children will, I am sure, have thanked God for tonight’s rain as it should mean we don’t need to water the vegetables by hand tomorrow morning.

Until you live in place where there is a strong chance of drought conditions, it is difficult to appreciate just how dry conditions can become when there is no rain. You see the obvious signs – leaves wilting on trees and bushes, dry patchy scrub with no new growth of grass and obviously dried up water holes and ponds. Somewhat paradoxically you only realise how dry the earth has become after is has rained. When I was in Kosele last November a long period of rain meant that our compound looked like it had a stream running through it each time the heavens opened. Walking to the classrooms this evening, after the rain, it was difficult to tell it had rained at all. It was as if all the water had just been sucked deep into the ground. As if the soil was hoarding the moisture.

Hopefully tonight’s change in the weather will be sustained. It would be a foolish farmer who rushed to plant his seed after the first sign of rain. We will need a couple of weeks of consistent rainfall before we are ready to trust our seed and fertiliser to the elements. There is too much riding on the coming harvest for everybody in our community to make mistakes at planting time. It is already clear that the previous harvest was meagre for some of our neighbours. The food will be running out within the next month for many families, and the next season’s harvest has yet to be planted. The coming season is called the ‘long rains’. We will pray that they are.

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