The quick and the dead

Images from this morning’s walk with Mouse.

The quick is the mangoes; a lavish crop of ‘commons’ in all the local trees, making a bid for immortality by fruiting well in harsh conditions. Also quick are the very early blossoms on the poincianas (aka Flamboyant Tree or Delonix regis), which normally flower for Christmas. All around the area, the trees are wearing enormous pompoms of brilliant scarlet flowers, almost as if they were waiting for an international convention of cheerleaders.

The dead is mostly everything else. Even the indestructible bougainvilleas have lost their green leaves, and the hot pink, purple and orange flowers are bursting forth on bare stems. Blossoms are falling everywhere, and any grass that isn’t irrigated is either brown and crispy, or already history.

On the upside, a little rain is forecast for the weekend. A couple of hours, not enough to restore the land, but it’ll make the fire danger just a little less. And a little more rain next week.

It had better be quick or there’ll be more dead.

Breathing under water

It’s coming. The rain, that is.

Screen shot 2015-01-16 at 9.04.02 PMThe Bureau of Meteorology says so.

Screen shot 2015-01-16 at 9.05.14 PMAccuweather says so. They also promise us 99% humidity tonight and 30ºC/86ºF at 2am. Which is ridiculous. If the percentage was any higher, we’d have to grow gills and learn to breathe warm water.

Clothes stick to you, hands (and everything else) are perpetually slippery with sweat and fresh food can’t be left out of the fridge for more than a moment or two, or you can almost see the mould start to sprout. The cold water that comes out of the tap isn’t. Wet things won’t dry. Dry things don’t stay that way. The pages of books curl up and feel damp. Everyone is grumpy. The horizon is a boiling mass of enormous black thunderclouds, lit internally from time to time by lightning too far to hear the accompanying clap of thunder.

Inch by inch, it creeps closer. This is the worst weather they’ve had up here for years, according to the locals. It’s dry, but in a really, really wet way.

Oh please, let it just rain…..


There’s a big, beautiful tropical low pressure front developing in the Coral Sea. Should be with us by Sunday.

Screen shot 2015-01-05 at 4.37.12 PM

And a Lovely Low means rain. Lots of rain. Monsoon type rain.  As I write, it’s bucketing down outside, but until that low front arrives, our rain showers are just that. Short, intense and a long way apart. Not enough to restore the water table, refill the dams or give the farmers any peace of mind. However, a bit of a circulation system is building up over the Solomon Islands, which will push its way down to us and give us the wetting we so richly deserve. Hurrah!

If this weather front materialises, the farmers are going to be happy and relieved. In this early growing phase, the young sugar cane will suck up an inch of water a day, guaranteeing strong growth and a good harvest. Up to now, it’s been an anxious and expensive time, with lots of irrigation going on, unusual for this time of year. Of course, for us, lots of rain also means the grass and weeds are going to jump out of the ground, and mowing has to be done hastily between downpours. On the other hand, rain will soften the ground enough that we can soon start installing fence posts for the chicken run and corner posts for the raised vegetable beds.

And one final benefit: it’s not cold and miserable here when it rains. It’s hot, and the rain is warm. No chilly trickles down the back of your neck, and paddling in puddles is fun. So much nicer than winter rain in the northern hemisphere… OK, it does get incredibly humid, and I have to clean up mould everywhere, but that’s a small price to pay.

Just nipping outside to smell the wet greenery and look at the 15 or so ducks grazing contentedly on the back lawn….