Winters Born as Summer Dies – Go Rain
Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Early morning – even with this fierce drought – is a magical time. As the sun slips above the mountains to the east, the treetops are washed in gold against the bluest sky. Birds mass in these treetops; babbling and preening as they prepare for the day.
The bush is slipping into fall, without familiar signs to mark the change, save a subtle shift of light, a certain coolness before dawn. And, it’s so peaceful…
Down by the river, two southern ground hornbills iNgududu in Zulu, are having a tête-à-tête – deep notes echoing in the still morning air – calling, “go rain, go rain”. Away from the river banks, further north, another pair begins to call – “go rain, go rain.” These bird have a sound you will never forget and here’s our article on these wonder birds and for their sound, scroll to the bottom. We have heard them now for 10 days solid, first thing every morning. It’s such a warm, peaceful, mellow sound, echoing between the river banks, soothing any frayed edges before the start of day.
It’s been a season without flowers. Somehow, over the years we have managed to have most family celebrations – birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones – happening during the rainy season. Our most enduring family tradition, no matter where we find ourselves in the world, is to garland the place-mat of the birthday boy or girl with flowers and leaves. Since returning to Africa, there’s been no shortage of plant material… until this year.
The game patterns have shifted, animals travel to where the water and food is. Long before dawn breaks, a gang of hungry, banded mongoose set off to hunt for bugs by the river. Along the way, they stop to forage around our bungalow and drink from the small waterhole up front. Their bubbling, tumbling chatter wakes us long before they arrive.
Standing by the open window one morning, there’s a loud scraping noise, then another! Could there be a trespasser in the bush? Not on your nelly! More scraping, a furious snort and the rumble of hooves alerts us, as a herd of zebra comes thundering through, playing jumping games all the way.
Our rains start in October/November with thunderstorms produced from a day of ruthless heat. This year we had the heat and for a while, even the thunderstorms everywhere, but no rain. We can count when the rain fell, on the fingers of two hands … roughly every six weeks – six times so far.
Those paltry rains brought some relief to the river, which in January, was almost completely dry and everyone around here uses river water. February saw an increase in the dwindling flow but the next seven months – the dry season – stretch ahead. And here, water is needed from the river.
And so the night closes in on another day, as we wait for the rain. Go rain, go rain, the Bushveld needs you… Even so your beauty never ends, when in a drought you rest and blossom anew in the season of plenty.