Friday, 12 December 2008


There are a lot of people who, when they look outside and see rain, think of it as gloomy, damp and miserable. I can understand this in places where it rains incessantly for days or weeks during long, cold winters but here in South Australia where the sun shines almost every day of the year and the light is strong and the air dry all year round and where drought is forever beckoning at the door, rain is life.

There is no life without water in the soil. Rain dissolves minerals from the parched land and sends them down through the layers of organic matter, clay, sand, loam and stones to feed the root tips which can only take in their goodness when it is dissolved in a liquid. Root tips are like babies; they can only drink and need the rain like a baby needs milk. As the rain falls through the atmosphere it also picks up particles of dust, nitrogen released by lightening and lots of other elements and these are deposited back into the soil, as the circle of life turns through the centuries and millenia.

I often wonder where the droplets of rain have come from, since rain is simply pure water that has evaporated from a river or the sea or from a forest whose every tree and plant is transpiring water vapour, just as we transpire air. Did this rain droplet come from a stream in Canada or a lone tree on a vast plain in Africa? Did all this rain that is thankfully falling today come from the same area or are they droplets from every corner of the earth, having flown and joined in a dizzying dance, to end up falling here on our gardens today? Where have these drops been and what sights have they seen on their journey through space from the dawn of time? It is truly mind boggling to realise that the water falling today is the same water that has been falling since the beginning of water. It may have been a part of you or me or a dinosaur or an extinct frog or plant.... but it has existed and will exist more or less forever.

We have not had a whole day of rain for years. Our rivers and lakes are at death's door. We had some patchy rains in winter, practically nothing in spring, our wettest season normally and the land has been looking parched even before our summer heat began. It is summer now and is supposed to be dry and hot but I don't care if all my tomatoes die from an outbreak of fungal diseases after this rain, it is far better we get rain, lots and lots of fact it would have to rain continuously for about a month to even start to replenish the severe lack of water in the subsoil, where so many of the trees have their roots.

Wherever I am in the world over the next few years I will never lose sight of the magic of rain. Having spent my whole life here in this dry land, rain will always bring a smile to my face and a skip to my step, because without rain, there is no life on earth and we are getting perilously close to being in that situation here in South Australia.

At 6pm we'd had 37mm!! Then we had another 5mm overnight.


Anonymous said...

My move from Seattle to Colorado's "alpine desert" really brought this home to me. Rain down, blessed rain!

chaiselongue said...

I love the way your write about rain, Kate, but I can't share your enthusiasm for it. I know we need it to live, but even here in the Languedoc where we have a very dry climate and the sun shines most days, no one likes it! We all know it's necessary, but no one goes out in it unless they absolutely have to, even (maybe especially) people who've lived here all there lives. On a grey day we all long for the sun and the light. You just seem to have a natural affinity with water - hope you find some rain soon!

Anonymous said...

We've had rain here,too! It is a glorious thing to be squelching about in the mud and feel the earth give when you walk.

Rachel said...

I feel just the same way - we had more than 60mm this weekend in Melbourne, and I just felt so relieved! I had to do a quick-and-dirty staking on Saturday morning of the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes to make sure the weight of the water didn't break the branches.

This morning, with the front having moved through, I did a tour of the garden and everything seems to have sprung up to greet the moisture - blossoms on my ground cherries (akin to cape gooseberries), blueberries bursting in size wand turning blue, strawberry blossoms everywhere, and at least six newly ripe cherry tomatoes. Love it.