Waiting for Rain
I have been waiting for rain. The earth is parched, the garden in need of a good soak. On the evening news, the forecast offers promise – ‘a chance of showers, early tomorrow morning’ or ‘up to 25mm of rain expected on Sunday’. The clouds build. Then dissipate, leaving only humidity and disappointment. Plants and people wilt. It feels like it will never rain again.
Meanwhile, the eastern half of the continent is engulfed in storms and floods. Here in the west, it’s hard to imagine. I look at endlessly blue skies and decide not to plant autumn vegetable seedlings just yet.
But change is in the air. I can feel it in the cooler mornings, see it in the activity of ants. The signs are there. Still, we wait.
On a leaden morning, I put the sprinkler on the garden, not believing the clouds. By mid-morning, my watering is vindicated. The clouds evaporate and with them the promise of rain. The muggy air frays tempers.
Then suddenly, a few days later, that sound. We look outside to check, not believing our ears. Fat raindrops splatter on the brick paving. Rain! It’s raining.
It pours. It beats against the roof and runs down the gutters. It splashes against the windows. It washes the dust from the leaves of the trees. It soaks the earth. I feel tension leave my body; tension I didn’t realise I was holding. I love rain. Perhaps a legacy of having almost always lived in places where it is limited.
My brother in Queensland sends me texts telling me how much rain he has had at his place, photos of mould growing in damp places, pictures of the flooded creek that he doesn’t bother building a substantial fence across. When he’s out working around his property, he keeps his phone in a zip-lock plastic bag and his tools in plastic boxes. I can’t fathom the rain that falls there – an average annual rainfall measurable in metres, not millimetres. I suspect I prefer living where rain is more limited. I like being able to enjoy it when it finally falls.
It's still raining when I go to bed and I lie there listening to it. During the night, I half wake up and hear it. Thrumming is the word that always comes to my mind when I think of listening to rain.
In the morning, when I take the dog for a walk, the world is wet. I stick to the path to save my trainers and socks from getting soaked. The dog goes nuts, racing across the grass, rolling in its wetness. It seems she too was waiting for rain. I put her on the lead and we continue on the path around the lake. One heavy shower of rain and the lake is full again. The ducks quack and squabble.
I cut across beneath the Moreton Bay figs. The leaf-strewn ground is spongy, softened by the rain. The air has a clean feel, literally as if it has been washed, the built-up dust of all those dry days and weeks and months washed back into the earth. The world feels fresh and new. This is what I was waiting for. This feeling of lightness, of life released from the pinch of thirst.
I am deep into the task of book writing. Days flit by when it feels like a gift, to be able to immerse myself in it like this. Then I grind to a halt as I wrestle with scientific papers on topics about which I have limited knowledge but need to know more. I lean on past contacts and friends to help make sense of it all. I take long walks to let my thoughts form and to let my subconscious work through the evidence.
My book is about food, farming and environment, about the things we eat, how it is farmed and what our choices mean. Some days I write copious amounts, pages and pages of what feels like good, important stuff. Then I stumble, have a day when I struggle to write a coherent sentence. Perhaps this is what all writers go through. This rollercoaster ride on the way to a book. At this stage, the working title of my book is What’s for Dinner?, but that may change between now and the middle of next year when it hits the shelves. I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks for reading,
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