acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Saturday, April 10, 2010

footsteps in sand

Last weekend we had some beautiful rain. Proper rain. Where the rain hammers on the tin roof so hard that you cannot hear yourself speak or think. Where silver strings of rain pour off the roof onto the earth and collect in ruvulets and then rivers, racing down the paths and roads.  After the rain, the sandy soil is plumped up like a giant wet sponge.  Every green leaf picks up its head and shimmers with diamante beads. The air hums with ozone. You know what I mean?

Well since then we have had light showers on and off, mostly in the evenings. Last night it rained softly, discreetly – a pitter patter of raindrops to cool the air and hold down the dust.  This morning the mountains are clearly etched against a clean blue sky. Every crack and fissure, every purple shadow and lichen encrusted cliff face takes the stage in the clean air.

The ground is still wet underfoot, and below the surface when we drive out on a tour of the dams and waterholes – loving the fact that they are all full now just ahead of the winter dry season. This should be enough water to carry the animals through to the next rainy season now.  Late rains are a marvelous thing really. The waiting is anxious time – the not knowing if they will happen – but for now that tension at least is gone.

We walked around the edge of one of the dams, following a path along side one of the inlets that feeds the dam. These are basically rivers of sand that only flow after a rain storm – flash floods. The thick quartzy sand is pristine in its flowmarks from last night save for the tracks of some turtles and a wildebeest.  We follow it around its bendy course, from shade tree to shade tree – long wet grass slapping our ankles.

I am walking along the sand when suddenly I step into a waterlogged corner and my foot disappears half way up to my knee.  It might have gone further if I hadn’t transferred my weight.  I pull back on my foot, being careful not to leave my shoe down there.  We laugh at me.

On the way back I get to thinking that the hole made by my foot will now be full of water, and some small creature will probably come to drink at this new waterhole in the sand.  They may even excavate it further

Which brings me to the point that we should never underestimate our effect – as discussed in Geli’s blog  yesterday.  And there is always that famous mosquito to think of.

If we take this thought further, to a global perspective  I think mankind in general makes a huge mistake in thinking that humans and nature are two separate entities.  Perhaps if we saw ourselves as natural elements on this planet – as much as rain  or ants or elephants  - we would have more respect for  this incredible natural world we are so much a part of.


Anonymous said...

Oh my - look at the drama queens huddled together in the rain. Precious
Fantastic rain like that!!

You are right - humans and nature on not exclusive. You are also right about flagship species in reply to my Momentarily Stumped post.

Angela said...

I lovelovelove your posts, Val! All in them, your thoughts, your pictures, the emotions they evoke! I must read this one again and again, wishing I was with you, listening to those torrents of rain, and then seeing everything green outside, smiling! Too bad we do not have guinea fowls here, they are so absurdly looking, but since I read Nicky`s posts about them, I kinda love them. Your Africa is so incredible, Val. Really. Amazing. Haha, very word says comming. I wish it was true. Either direction!

Anonymous said...

Oh for a good African downpour, just once in a while would be good as distraction from the seemingly never ending drizzle I endure here. Oh for the excitement of a the crash-boom-bang of a real thunderstorm.

You are right about the arrogance/ignorance of modern folk thinking they are unconnected to the natural world. Nice post and I'm happy to know you've had late rains.

Miss Footloose said...

Lovely writing! Lovely rain! I remember rains like that in Africa, and how I enjoyed them

It's our modern western culture that has taught us we are the master of the earth rather than a part of it.

In many older and traditional societies/cultures people do feel themselves part of nature. It makes me think of the buffalo hunting American Indians who would honor and thank the animals for giving their lives to sustain theirs.

Miss Footloose said...

Ah, sheesh, I should have said "native Americans." Sorry.

Anne said...

Another great adventure! I absoulutely love this Blog.
Have a wonderful day!

Cheryl Cato said...

I know how much this rain means to you & the tension you have endured. After our 2 year drought we have water in our rivers, stock tanks & streams and it is a wonderful sight as we head into the hot summer months.
Your comments about humans being part of the natural world is on target. Perhaps we would all be happier & more accepting if we realized we are a part of nature rather than the ruler of it.

Val said...

Janet - yes the drama queens were quiet for once!

Angela - thanks for your kind words. When are you coming?

Rob - yeah - there is nothing quite like an African rain storm - a proper one :-)

Val said...

miss footloose - i think we need to get back to some of these traditional values.

choices - yay! you too!

Lizzy - so glad you have some good late rains too.

thanks everyone for your comments. have a happy weekend wherever you are xxxV

Lori ann said...

So beautiful Val, your thoughts and rain soaked photos. It's true what you say, and something i've always felt strongly and Chuck too. And in fact the biggest reason he's made it his career, to throw light on the wild outdoor world and all it's inhabitants. Education and knowledge seem to be the only way to go I think. When a adult or child knows a place or an animal, they usually take a personal responsiblitly towards protecting it.

lovely post as always,
xxx to you,

Pooch Purple Reign said...

what a beautiful post. i love the sound of rain on a tin roof.
im very glad i stopped by to take a peek.
cheers from canada

Val said...

Lori - i am trying to post a lovely quote about this on my sidebar - but its playing hard to get today. thanks for your kind words x

Laura - greetings and thanks for visiting! and commenting :-) enjoyed visiting yours - like the Pooches, and Charlies Angels - thanks for the smiles

happy sunday xxxV

Kristin said...

I can totally imagine the rain hammering and the hole filled with water...

Spiny Marshmallow said...

I quite agree with what you say about separation from nature but I think mainstream thought is changing - we have been dominating nature for a few centuries but maybe people are getting the message that we cant keep doing it. Conservation policies may SLOWLY be getting the point (like eco-feminism is making) that we must stop this dictatorial attitude and policies towards nature...lets hope so,...

Val said...

Kristin - i see from your other message that you're back in stormy weather too. All sounds very dramatic weatherwise in your world!

Hey Pam - i keep trying to leave comments on yours, and nothing happens. probably me being thick and they will all arrive at once somewhere. love your blog tho - congrats!
I really hope there is a positive change a-coming to environmental attitudes; it feels so much like the dark ages still; but hope springs eternal :)


David said...

Love the rain. And sand on feet!

Lyn said...

Your posts always import us to your back door, to share the experiences of the day/moment. This was no exception ... I swear I could feel my foot sink and I almost lost my balance.

Your descriptions and musings shed light on the delicate balance of nature. Love your writing Val!

Delwyn said...

Hi Val

this post is as refreshing as your rains, you have composed it well and given us wonderful nature to appreciate and at the same time made us think about our impact on the natural world.

what is that little huddle..turkeys...are they guinea fowls?

Happy days

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, the hum of ozone. It's a delicious feeling.

I agree that we are not separate from "nature." We ARE nature, and all of our "man-made" structures and devices are part of nature too, like beaver dams or beehives, we shape the natural world to suit our needs. Thinking otherwise has gotten us into so much trouble.

Thanks too for remembering that even getting your leg stuck in the sand has an impact. I'm trying to remember that lately, that what I do, say and think has impact. Not HUGE impact, but it still changes the world in a small way. Great to remember - empowering. Thanks, Val.

Vagabonde said...

What a great post. I was with you walking after the rain and it was a refreshing walk.

Philosophers have been talking about nature for eons, but still many people do not care.

“The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. -Zeno of Citium, Greek Philosopher 334 BC - 262 BC.”

karen said...

Hi Val
Tried to comment earlier, but in this new format I often can't leave comments on your blog. Back to try again! Great post, and I love the huddled guineas...

Anil P said...

The air is never so fresh as when it has rained so hard as to drown out voices.

The determination of a vociferous few who have much to loose, with their investment and material effort at stake will continue to step in the way of conservation, unmindful of the consequences.

Val said...

David - hello and thanks for your visit.

Lyn - I am so glad you came by for that walk with me and thanks for your kind words!

Delwyn - yes they are guinea fowl - aka The Drama Queens; they were in the rain out of choice..

Val said...

Reya - thanks and you are so right; we are nature and indivisible from our ever changing environment. This may sound wierd but I am always amazed at how individually we come from nothing and yet our very bones can lie around in the soil for millenia!

Vagabonde - thats a great quote thanks. One day we will get the message wont we?

Val said...

hi Karen - i changed the comment form - back to the old ways :-)

Anil P - sadly thats so true; the major players have too much at stake to make any real changes. I suppose if we each do what we can in our own small spheres that in itself will make a big difference?... sigh.... one step at a time :-)

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and input. lets keep this thought process going!


Chimera said...

Sucha gorgeous post Val thank you. Can smell the rain and the earth too. Am just catching up on your amazing trip to Mozambique and sorry to hear about your old friend Ben. Wonderful photos!
Tanvi xx

Paul C said...

A wonderful post about our affinity with nature. Last summer we traveled to Manitoulin Island, northern Ontario and we saw giant cranes walking in the hay field. I felt the same about nature at that moment.

Stacy Hackenberg said...

Great writing, as always, Val. Since this blog is probably as close as I'll ever get to Africa, I love to stop by and take a peek into your world.

Marilynne said...

We've had lots of rain in Southern California this year too. I almost wish I had a tin roof so I could hear it come down too. Mostly it's the damp smell that let's us know.