Friday, September 21, 2007

Rain

Often, when meeting a Zambian, certain topics come up. How many children do I have? What is the weather like in the US?

Sometimes I get the feeling that they think the weather is all the same in the whole country, and when I try to answer, we get tangled up in a simple difference. Here there is a wet season and a dry season. They can't understand a place where it could rain at any time of the year. Early on I was told that here, it was the dry season, with the last raindrops having fallen back in July, and no more rain expected until the end of October.

It is green here, I'm told, during the rainy season, but of course, the mosquitoes come out as well. October is the "suicide month", when it gets hot all day long and it doesn't even cool down at night. Then, over the course of three weeks or so, the clouds will come, building and promising rain that never seems to come, complete with lightning. And then the rainy season begins, with torrents.

However, for the past three days, the usual cloudless skies were less so. People started commenting about how strange it was to have clouds at this time of year. And then, this afternoon, I was sitting on the veranda, under the metal roof, and I heard the shotgun patter of raindrops.

At first I didn't believe it was rain. As the clouds had passed over earlier, I had heard a similar noise whenever the sun came out and the metal roof began expanding, creating popping noises.

But this was really different. Then, I noticed leaves moving as if they were being hit by raindrops. I walked out, and confirmed it. Rain had come. Unseasonable, and puzzling to one and all, it has rained lightly for a couple of hours now. The air smells of it. And even though the ground has been baked dry for so long that every drop is immediately soaked up, the air is comfortably cool.

I had seen the reports of flooding deaths up north in equatorial Africa, and this is probably just a a finger of the clouds that have wandered down to Kalomo, but it confirms again how much new chaos has been added to the world's climate.

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