Tag Archives: rainy season

On Clouds

The air keeps rushing, switching from cold wind to hot sun as the clouds move across the sky. The clouds are thick, greys edged with white today. Not storm clouds yet, but ones that aspire to be so menacing.

I sit in my chair and read.

My clothes hang on the line, it’s been a three day process to wash them. Two days ago the weather was perfect: bright blue skies, thin clouds floating past. But there was no water. The mechanized pump and spigots that World Vision put in to replace our old, regular borehole, have not been functioning so well and water has been spotty if at all. So I waited.

Yesterday was a storm day. White sky in the morning, clouds already crowding a sky awaiting the afternoon storm. But there was water, so I washed, giving my clothes a quick scrub before hurriedly clipping them up on the makeshift line I string up between corners of my fence. A hasty hour or two in the air with spots of sun peeking through got them almost dry before the storm, as expected, came.

Now today I sit, watching the southeast for the storm. My clothes are swaying in the occasional wind, slowly drying in the reluctant sun.

I sit in my chair and read: now Artemis Fowl, now The Wheel of Time, book seven.

The clouds to the southeast are thick, but that doesn’t indicate rain. They are thick but in layers, like strips of grey and greyer cotton lining the sky. The clouds I’m watching for, though, are the deep blue singularity of a storm. The middle-of-the-ocean blue that darkens and greys and intensifies as it slowly creeps over the sky.

I keep sitting in my chair, reading: now Looking for Lovedu, now Mao II.

I keep watching for the clouds. For the slow rumble that will indicate thunder, that will indicate t-minus thirty minutes until the rain. I’ll be able to watch it as it encroaches, swallowing the fields, making its way over the trees until it reaches me. Until I hastily bring in the clothes,  the solar panels. I will fold up my chair, retreat with my book inside as the rain starts sputtering over me and the air goes cold. I’ll light some candles and huddle under my sleeping bag on the couch as the the rain swallows any plans I may have had for the afternoon. That’s what I’m watching for.

In the meantime I sit in my chair and read.

I sit in the alternating sun and cool, I watch the fluff of the clouds overhead, I watch my Saturday progress and measure the time through pages read in my book.

On Malawi Vacation

Bounce around in the back of the truck, wind blowing through your hair. Pause the truck to let the baboons cross the street (why did the monkeys cross the road?), more like a tiny dirt road. Pick up some people, drop some off. Stop for a hitchhiker: a forty-five minute ride can take three hours.

Malawi is beautiful. Small hills covered in big rock faces and newly green trees. Gardens and farms line the road, soil prepped and ready for the rainy season to come in full force to grow the maize. White sand beach, small islands popping up in the middle of the lake which looks like an ocean. Clear blue water lapping the edges, the amaamas washing the clothes and the dishes in the lake, little naked kids diving in and out of the water.

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Little iwes jump on the back of the truck as we drive through the village.
Little iwes jump on the back of the truck as we drive through the village.

Its dry here still, like in much of south eastern Zambia, where the rains are still just starting, a month later than they should have. You can see it in the trees and the fields and in the rivers thirsting for water. You can feel it in the heat, which constantly needs a good rain to break it up into something more bearable. Something less heavy feeling. The hot season has gone on way too long here.

Of course, being from Northwest, I am not used to the heat. Our rainy season has been going for at least a month or two now, and I worry more about the hole in my roof than about my neighbors’ farms not being able to grow food. I worry about the snakes that might come in through the forest of ferns that grows up around my house before I ask someone to come and slash my yard. Dry is a foreign concept at home when I cant get my clothes to dry, when I am in bed in my sweatpants and a sweater.

Men lounge at the bus station in Lilongwe, Malawi
Men lounge at the bus station in Lilongwe, Malawi

But, then again, this is our beach vacation, and what is a beach vacation without too much heat and sunburns and skipping over the burning sand into the cool water to cool down?

And here we are: in Malawi. On the lake, the crystal clear lake that is so big it seems like an ocean. We lie on the beach and read our books and drink our beers and life on vacation is good. We wait while the morning clouds clear out, we catch a ride into town to get money from the atm. The breeze in the truck bed cuts the heat for the moment, and is a nice break from the rest of the day.

And we return to the beach. We watch the boats in the water, multiplied at night while they shine their lights and go fishing. We watch the amaamas go down to the edge of the water and wash the clothes and the dishes and themselves. The little boys run down to the edge of the water, strip their clothes off on the way and dive into the waves. We count the chickens running around in the sand with the kids, and it is so much like home, like the village, but with sand instead of dirt and lakes instead of streams. It is vacation.

Lake Malawi, amaamas doing wash.
Lake Malawi, amaamas doing wash.