Sitting on my newly repaired patio a few weeks ago, I watched my dogs panting, even though we were all in the shade. The sun had left my favourite site by 10 o’clock and we all moved outside to catch the slightly cooling breeze. I picked up my coffee, after first carefully searching for any terrorist lizards planning an ambush or surprise and sipped at the strong sweet liquid while I surveyed my kingdom.
It has been incredibly hot the past few weeks with temperatures hovering around 35 deg C. The grass was dry and where it had not yet grown, the sand was parched and powdery, lying there in silence, while it waited. The rumble of distant thunder, announcing the possibility of drought breaking rain was rising to a crescendo. I watched the columns of ants scurrying around with frenzied urgency as they sensed the impending downfall which would no doubt flood their burrows with life giving and sometimes life destroying, rain.
The snails moved to find shelter under leaves and an old piece of wooden board that my son had left lying on the grass after the cricket game last night. The birds darted from branch to branch urgently as if seeking shelter from the impending storm, with one or two landing and settling close to the tree bole under some sort of cover. Birds, bees, ants and snails were all taking precautionary measures and even the dragonfly was flying with more purpose, rather than the usual flit and hover sequence I was used to.
The skies were getting darker and darker as the rain ladened clouds glided silently to form a seemingly impenetrable mass of rather malevolent looking facial shapes which kept changing as the wind currents up high, forced them into new ferocious formations, while spitting the occasional forked tongue of lightning in all directions. Every time the thunder clapped, my dogs barked in defiance and the various insects moved ever faster.
Suddenly there was a huge thunderclap followed by a vivid pyrotechnic display of lighting almost directly overhead. The dogs bolted for the safety of their boxes while I gently dabbed at the coffee I had thrown in my face, which was now dripping from my chin. I reminded myself to stop having coffee on the patio, because between lizards and thunder I seemed to have spilt more than I had drunk.
It brought back memories of when I was a couple of years younger and still had the strength to walk, there was nothing better than taking a walk without an umbrella in cooling summer rain, with the steam rising from the tar and the hot earthy smell as the first raindrops started to fall.
The heavens opened and it started to rain. The sight of the parched South African earth eagerly absorbing as much water as God could throw at it, combined with the smell, reminded me of why I love my country so much. If only this rain could wash away the greed, bickering and fighting, like it did to the leaves and other litter we left lying around, and mold us into one, like a great big mud ball, we would almost be in paradise.