I want to talk about the rain. Everyone is talking about the rain here in Tasmania, so a little more talk about it is neither here nor there.
This is what we do during a drought – when there is not enough grass for our cows to eat, or water for our gardens to thrive, or enough dam capacity for our lightbulbs to burn all night for small children to find the loo – we talk about rain. “Oh where are you rain?” we think, when there is none. And “Oh that’s not enough rain,” we grizzle, when it drizzles on our washing.
And when the suns shines and polishes up our days, we will think about rain again because we should be wishing for it when we’re not.
In light of the extended summer we had here, I wrote this the other day…
“I can’t help but adore these warm and soft, golden Autumn days and despite myself (and the yellowing paddocks), they never fail to make me feel grateful for being alive.
I can imagine all sorts of things on a day like this, it has poetry in it; it has new wishes and happy endings. I could do anything on a day like this. But I don’t in fact do much at all. Just being in the day seems enough. A few chores perhaps; a day like this makes chores okay. Hanging clothes on the line seems a privilege. On a day like this.
From under the clothes line I watch the children not bicker or want or demand. I watch a bird jet in and out of the hawthorn tree and resolve to water it with tonight’s bathwater. It’s terrible luck to let a Hawthorn die, my friend told me. Witches wands are made from Hawthorn, and their brooms. Women wash their faces with the dew from hawthorn blossom to ensure their beauty for the coming year (must try that next Spring).
I wonder all this and also whether this might be my good old days, that my golden age is now and that I might look on shimmering days like this as some of my best.
But then I feel guilty for not wishing harder for rain. And then I don’t. Because if it’s not going to rain, it might as well shine. And if you’re going to dance a rain dance, you might as well do it in the sun, when the fall of leaves and the still, sparkly air compel your feet to move.”
I did get a bit waylaid by the Hawthorn lore and poetry bullshit but I want to acknowledge the effect of weather on our state of mind. Four days after I wrote this, it rained. Proper, soaking, happy farmer rain. And I felt all appreciative again, in a different way.
Rain means things are being watered without anyone having to cart bathwater about, it means we don’t feel obligated to go outside to enjoy the sun before it’s weakened by winter. It means we get stuff done while other important stuff is happening, like the tanks are filling and the cows’ wellbeing sorted.
As the rain fell, I did 3 months’ worth of filing, sorted the washing and make a speck and leak quiche. The quiche is seriously high achievement stuff for me, a week ago I didn’t even know what speck was (posh bacon) or that I could even entertain ideas of making my own pastry. I would never do this without the luxury of rain-time, all that putting in sago and getting the shell in and out of the oven. But at the time I just relished the intricacies of it (listen to me – it’s not like I was making miniature truffle soufflés). Me being perfect-pastry wife-ish along with the steamy windows and the girls playing and the boys watching the footy with the smells of drying washing and crispy speck (doesn’t have quite the same ring as crispy bacon but anyway) and that lovely old chestnut, the rain on the roof; it all just gave me a big whirl of contentment. Seems so anti-feminist but there you go. I did get the boys to put away the washing.
The wonder of rain – the girls built a cubby and actually played in it. For hours, with their dollies, who have been heartlessly buried in the toy basket since last year. And it wasn’t the usual ’vandalise the house steal all the blankets and pillows then abandon building site’ sort of cubby play either. Rain apparently brings miracles other than grass growth and froggies.
In Tasmania, the hydro dams got to an all time low of 12.8% capacity. The state has been running on diesel (literally, huge fuckoff diesel generators; no way to run things in this carbon crippled age, but we’re a bit stuck). This weekend the dams went back up to 13% and the generators were switched off for a bit.
So keep doing your rain dances. Keep talking.
I won’t go on. My grandmother Mary would say, “Oh you do go on darling”. But I will visit her on Thursday and she will talk about the rain too.
That’s what rain does.
I’m a bit like you, Meg. As a farmer’s wife I felt guilty about loving the summer we have had. But then I would see husband paying for another lot of sheep pellets for the silo and son feeding out every day (in the dark now) and I would kick myself to have more empathy. The kicking became a kind of rain dance in its own way. And yes, it rained and we had about 12-14 mls at Orielton. It’s wet the pasture nicely – we can switch the irrigation off for a bit. The oats will finish the way nature intended (with rain), and maybe pasture will emerge whilst there’s still that little bit of Indian summer warmth left in the soil.
But I have to say, being a sun and summer lover, that there’s still a traitorous part of me that is counting the days – only 149 days left till daylight saving!
Thanks for signing to us yesterday!👏