acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Thursday, October 9, 2008

mini skirt trouble

Today is 42C – the only breath of wind feels like someone opened an oven door. 33C inside the house. Monkeys are sleeping on the stoep, trying to cool down on the concrete floor (while waiting for the door to be left open); warthogs are stony sculptures sleeping in the dust. Bright blue glossy starlings inspect them for ticks. Anorexic looking kudus stalk past to the waterhole. Thin animals everywhere; skin hanging in folds. The thin ones don’t get to eat with the rest at feeding time as they are not strong enough to fight their way in. Their clocks are ticking. Its depressing to watch them lose condition so quickly and still no sign of life giving rain.

This year is extreme. It is something to experience, but you must guard against depression. Locals call this suicide month. Crops wither, cattle are thin and dying, boreholes drying up – and you cant make water when it is gone. It seems like it will never rain again – ever. With mortality staring us in the face all day, we start to think of our own – worry about our own health. Its inevitable I suppose. And I am not even going into whats happening to the global economy!

With the drought comes veld fires. All over the southern continent tinder dry grasses are swallowed up by racing fires – leaving a desolate landscape in their wake. We have heard of three safari camps burnt to the ground in the past month. What of the rural villages – people and animals caught in the cross fire?

Animals too feel the tension. Across the border in mozambique, there is a new national park. Elephants come into conflict with people here. People plant crops everywhere, even under shade trees. Elephants need to get to water, find shade; they eat crops and trees when there is no grass. Matriarchs particularly are stressed moving their herds of sisters and young – trying to stay alive. Everywhere they go they are chased by people banging pots, or shooting at them. Finally they turn on the first person they see – trampling them to death.

Tension mounts with the mercury rising; with luck storm clouds will build out of the remaining moisture sucked from the earth and every living thing. With the first rain, bright shimmering green bursts on the scene. I am picturing the green inside the dessicated trees, just waiting for its curtain call. The ground shimmers and bakes like an earthen pot in a giant kiln. Walk barefoot at your peril – soon you will be dancing like a cat on a hot tin roof – the ultimate rain dance!

In the old days in South Africa, the Church would blame drought on girls who wore mini skirts. This is retribution…. Fire and brimstone. Maybe they had a point. OK I’ll be good, and wear a long skirt if that’s what it takes.

For now though we watch and wait, and watch and wait- holding our breath as the dramatic tension increases testing the mettle of everyone and everything. This has to break soon and when it does…..there will be a festival of green.


Angela said...

What a post! I promise I won`t wear any mini skirts, just long trousers (Is that allowed, Church?). Wish I could send you some of our clouds! I can`t even IMAGINE such temperatures, and my heart is sad for every thin animal that has to die. And you both take care of your own health!!!!

Val said...

Thanks Geli - there are some clouds in the sky this evening... would be so fantastic if we had a lovely rainstorm now.... xx

Anonymous said...

Oh that oppressive heat sapping energy. I can taste the dust and feel the hopeless ache of being able to do so little while wishing, willing the rain to come. You describe it so well Val.

Anonymous said...

Val, perhaps you could email your email addy.

Val said...

hi Rob, thanks,my email
greetings to the inukshuks!

Angela said...

Rob, I have always wondered, what ARE Inukshuks?
Oh, let that rain pour down tonight!!!!

Siobhán said...

Very much enjoying your blog Val. Your descriptions are so vivid. Thanks.

Reya Mellicker said...

Please please please God - let it rain!

Oh I love your blog. I feel the tension; it's visceral. Thank you so much for bringing me across the Atlantic, into your realm.

C'mon rain gods. Please??

Miranda said...

Ah, great post Val! SO glad you're blogging! Ah this all makes me so homesick but that convection oven heat is like nothing else. I'm going home this month and I've forgotten how hot it gets. Hope you guys get rain soon soon.

Kate said...

Love your posts, Val. Something for you over at my place... :-) Wish it was rain, but I don't have much influence there.

Unknown said...

I remember being struck how dry it was in Kruger in August and when one of the rangers said to us that rain might only come as late as December I remember thinking, my god, how will anything survive. Driving along the Panorama Route a couple of days later, there were just fires and smoke everywhere. I heard a guy saying in Pilgrim's Rest that Graskop had very nearly been burnt to the ground only a few months before.
We get our dry times down here too but we never get the same heat as you do up there, that oppressive, life-defying heat.
My heart goes out to you, to the animals, the people around you. Yes, this is the kind of weather that drives people mad.
I will send visions of rain, of green grass. Maybe if enough of visualise it with you, the rains will soon come.
Take good care of yourself.

BTW - I finally did your meme, so sorry for the delay!

Anonymous said...

It completely fascinates me the extremeties of weather.

CJ xx

Fire Byrd said...

I don't know what to say. It feels so desolate waiting on the rain. I just hope that you really get it soon.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

If it helps, I'll throw my miniskirt away for you.

It is one thing to have to cope with heat--that part I can imagine--but it's quite another thing to stare death in the face day after day without letting it get you down.

If I haven't asked before, what are kudus?

I hope you receive much-needed rain and relief soon. In the meantime, your descriptions are riveting. Hang in there.

A Mum said...

the only breath of wind feels like someone opened an oven door ... i so know how you feel. Here we're waiting for rain with breath held tight anxious in our chests and dust thick, thick in our throats. and if only i had the energy to make meringues i could probably bake them on the back seat of my car.

Val said...

dear blogging pals - sorry for late response, but i have been away in mozambique and only home last night - happy to see so much catching up to do and thought of you all while i was there!
Thanks for all your lovely commentsx
CBW - a kudu is one of our largest antelopes - very stately - the males have spectacular spiral horns - three twists when fully mature.
sad to say still no rain here....

Janelle said...

oh phew you been in moz..been worried sick!!! away then. xxxx janelle

tam said...

We had beautiful storms in Jozi on Saturday... its coming, its coming!

Val said...

Reluctant Memsahib - I love the idea of you baking meringues on the back seat of the car :-)

hey Janelle - thanks man! sorry shoulda let you guys know... will get some posts up. Moz was really cool.

Tam - thats great to hear! Thanks for that....been a bit of lightening around but all far far away.


Unknown said...

So glad to see you're back, have been worrying about you!

Lori ann said...

Val, yes, welcome home. I'm so glad you had a safe, and from the looks of the photos, a sucessful trip! All those beautiful smiles...wish I coulda been there...great.great.Now, rain come!(please?)

xx lori

Val said...

Katherine - thanks for the blog award!! wow.. am so glad you are enjoying them. amazing! I think i have to pass it on to 7? right-ho

Absolute Vanilla - its still really dry. last night thunder and lightening all around- quite a show; but no rain here yet. at least it feels like a possible soon though.
will look for your meme :-)

and thanks for all the kind and lovely messages of concern while i was away....i did miss my blogging kin and its good to be back!