Last night I expect the drought broke here, with a spectacular lightning show, crashing thunder and rain which drummed down for a good hour.
Living on the land and being so dependent on the weather, you get very attuned to changes in the atmosphere, so I wasn’t taken by surprise – there was definitely an increase in humidity all week and an oppressive instability around.
It happened around midnight. I was asleep but woken by Yogi who doesn’t like storms one bit – he was standing at my bedroom window looking out, growling and barking – I expect he thought he was protecting me. I got up to take a look. The hills lighting up like daylight was an awesome sight. Outside on the front deck Loopy Lucy was clearly agitated so I went out to comfort her – Charlie lay sprawled in her mat in the living room, not fazed at all despite Yogi running around inside barking and growling. If I could have let Loopy in I would have, but she and Charlie don’t get on and the last thing I wanted was a dog fight.
In the end I gave Loopy a big bone to chew on and she disappeared, I’m assuming to her little nook under the deck, and I didn’t hear from her again despite the storm increasing in intensity – Loopy can only pay attention to one thing at a time. It was pointless me going back to bed while Yogi remained agitated so I stood at the glass doors leading out to the back deck, and watched the storm raging over the landscape. Once it passed over, then the rain started. Steady, drumming rain, as loud as the thunder had been.
I thought of the tanks and dams being filled, the plants in my garden reaching up to the rain, the fields that the cattle and horses need to graze on getting a good drenching. I wondered whether other places in Australia that needed the rain were getting it; however, I know Mother Nature can be cruel and capricious, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope on that one. I thought about my horses, knew that they had probably taken shelter in the stable; thought idly about the chooks, cozy and dry in their houses, realising that the younger ones would not know what rain was, let alone storms. Thought about the kids in their bedrooms – I’d seen the lights under their doors when I emerged from my room but they had not appeared. They had probably only registered the barking inside and the tumult outside as a minor blip on their teenage awareness.
Yogi had gone back to his bed bed once the thunder passed, however I wanted to keep listening to the rain. It occurred to me that if we were in for days of rain, the appreciation of it would degenerate into annoyance and anxiety – I’d have to sawdust the entry to the stable which was prone to becoming slushy – I’d seen Gendry slip and crash once which was a frightening sight. After too much rain the roses would start to look water clogged and the weeds would crop up everywhere. The town would start to worry about flooding.
It was all a distinct possibility, of course. Such is the climate we are blessed or cursed with. Mother Nature sure is perverse. She sees us suffering from drought then just as the peak of suffering is reached she says – “Alright, alright, here’s some rain. Oh wow, this is fun… I don’t think I will stop it yet. Ha ha, see all the flash flooding and overflowing creeks… gonna throw in a bit more, best get the sandbags out, my people…this is hilarious…ok, I’ll stop now, you ungrateful people.. oh, it’s cyclone season… think I’ll head north and see what I can stir up there…”
They say living in Australia makes you tough – all the critters that want to kill you, the weather that can destroy you. I’m not sure about that – it’s more living here makes you resigned to succumbing to powers that are stronger than anything humanity can muster up. In the end though, you kind of feel this country is on our side after all – this is going to sound whimsical and trite, but this morning, noticing that quintessential tinge of green on the hills I’m reminded of part of an iconic poem that probably every Australian knows and many may also be thinking of this morning:
“For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze … “
My Country, Dorothea Mackellar