The climate in our part of semi-tropical Congo often seems like paradise. The temperatures are temperate, and the sun shines every day. Visitors and newcomers are almost always pleasantly surprised by it. We all agree: Take away the deadly mosquitos, add a bit more development, and this place could be heaven on earth.
Alas, paradise has its limits. Six solid months without a cloud in the sky can leave a person craving a little rain for a change. By the time rainy season rolls around we are practically begging for it. Please, spare me another perfect day! Give me a reason to stay inside with a cup of tea, bake some cookies, and curl up with a good book.
The farmers are begging for it, too, I’m sure. After having been so dry for so long, a thick layer of brown covers everything. Lucy the monkey leaves a little cloud of dust behind her wherever she goes, jumping from bamboo branch to fence to tree to rooftop. Our kitty goes outside to play and must be shaken down before he’s allowed to come back in. Even the sky looks like it could use a good scrubbing.
Usually the rains start in September or October, after weeks of teasing us with what feels like stifling humidity and rising pressure. We hear thunder in the distance and start jumping up and down, along with all the local farmers. Come closer! This way!
This season, there’s an entry in my calendar labeled “first rain!” on Thursday, October 9. Every year it’s a relief and cause for celebration. And every year we’re surprised all over again at how much water can come out of the sky at once. A couple of times this season we watched a storm roll in from the safety of our patio, only to be chased inside by tree limbs flying through the air or sudden bolts of lightning landing just meters away. I always get a certain thrill from these storms, followed quickly by pangs of guilt as I think about people caught by surprise outdoors, or trying to sleep under a leaky thatched roof.
There’s a reason most cultures around the world have a designated Rain God or Gods, and traditional prayers or dances to bring on their favors. Rain is the giver of life, it’s what makes things grow and quenches thirst. Without it there is dust, and famine, and death. But there can also be Too Much of a Good Thing. This year was a slow start but the gods made up for it with a vengeance. Several countries just southeast of us – Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe – are experiencing record rainfall. Nearly half a million people have been displaced due to severe flooding. (Sources: Bloomberg and Al Jazeera)
The rain giveth, and the rain taketh away. And though I am not a farmer and am not displaced and have very little to complain about, the rain has taketh away a little something from me, too. After a month or two of dark and brooding cloudy mornings, I’ve forgotten what it was exactly I was begging for. Now the gray is becoming monotonous. I’d like the sunshine to come back now, please.
Hmm. Yesterday I posted an article in which I blamed my poor mood on feeling bored and isolated, plus having been cut off from the internet for three weeks without knowing how long that was going to last. Today I’m blaming the weather. Tomorrow I plan to blame my cat, who apparently has a tapeworm and cannot stop attacking my feet when he’s hungry (which is all the time).
No, just kidding. Tomorrow we’ll return to our regularly-scheduled rose-colored happiness, I promise! Rain or shine.