The Rains Down in Africa

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!

It’s either really really wet, or really really dry (chart is mine using linked data).

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.

A cleaner Lucy saying hello one day in November.

A cleaner Lucy saying hello one day in November.

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.

It’s not like living near the Arctic Circle or anything, but there’s a definite downer happening here.

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.


  1. LOL – no matter where one lives, there is always something Mother Nature throws that we have to put up with. You’ve experienced it yourself here on your visits to Florida. And what did we always say when we lived in Kansas? “Just wait a few minutes; the weather will change.” By the way, Lucy is looking very healthy these days.


    1. I really enjoyed reading about your weather. Very colorful picture you painted for me to understand what you are seeing and experiencing. I’m going to print it off and give to some of my teacher friends to read to their students in class. They will get a kick knowing that someone from Rossville gets to see the world like you do. So proud of you! Speaking of water, my school bus didn’t want to stop on it yesterday. I almost ran a stop sign because we had two layers of snow on the roadway which didn’t bond together allowing the tires to not grab very well. In other words it was very slick, especially while going downhill toward the stop sign. We did eventually get stopped at the edge of the highway but a little to close for my comfort. All is going well with everything. We have been very cold in Kansas and all of us can’t wait for the weather to change. Love , Dad


      1. Glad you liked it, Dad! I figured I must have lost everybody with all those charts. Glad you got the bus stopped in time!! That sounds very nerve-wracking, I wouldn’t want to be driving anywhere. Stay safe and warm, and just wait 5 minutes for the weather to change! 😉


    2. Yeah, no place is perfect, that’s for sure. Even the tropics that are perfectly pleasant year-round. I look back and now appreciate growing up in a place that had four seasons! (sometimes in one day!)


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