Posted tagged ‘dry season’

“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.”

September 1, 2018

Today is again glorious, cool and dry. The sun is strong. The sky is blue and unmarred by clouds. I’m going to sit on the deck and take it all in because by Sunday the ugly humidity will be back.

Today is the meteorological end of summer, and Labor Day is the unofficial end but none of that matters to Mother Nature. She will continue to blast us with heat and humidity until fall can finally work its way past her. I’m hoping it will be soon. Fall is my favorite season.

In Ghana we had the dry season and the rainy season. I lived where the dry season was hotter than any other place in Ghana, but now it is the rainy season there so the temperature in Bolga, my other home town, is the lowest it will be all year. It has been in the high 70’s and the mid 80’s there, and rain has fallen just about every day. It is odd to see it cooler in West Africa than it is here.

During my early Peace Corps days, I missed fall, the snow at Christmas and the freshness of spring. I missed flowers. But the longer I lived there, the more I came to love the changes in Ghana’s weather. The rains came intermittently in September. The fields and grasses began to turn brown. Every day seemed hotter than the previous one. By the end of September, it was the high 80’s. In October it was the high 90’s. The worst months, February through April, usually reached 100˚ or more. My favorite month was December. The days were hot, but the nights were cold in comparison. I needed a blanket. It was Bolga’s snow at Christmas. In May the rains started. The grasses turned green. The fields were filled with the young shoots of millet, maize and sorghum. The trees were green with leaves. It was spring, Ghanaian style. The market was overloaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. The tomatoes were luscious.

It has been a long, long while since I lived in Ghana so I have forgotten the horrific heat, those days over 100˚.  Back then I seldom complained. I took my cold shower late, jumped into bed and fell asleep. Now I complain and moan and turn on the air conditioner.

That’s the way it was there, and now that’s the way it is here.

“Life is more fun if you play games.”

March 5, 2018

I am reminded of the scene in War Games when it appeared as if ballistic missiles had destroyed bases in the US. Using the radio, the general asked the radio operator at one base if anyone was there: if anyone was left alive. There was silence then a voice, “We’re still here. We’re still here.” Well, I’m still here too. I have no idea if the powers that be have commuted my death sentence. I think so, but I could be off by a day or two.

My morning was a busy one. I was out early to finish two errands. I was thinking about  rewarding my efforts with coffee and a donut, a Boston cream donut, from Dunkin’, but I decided to go home, put the coffee on and get comfortable.

The weather is still ugly. The day is chilly and raw. We have clouds and wind gusts. Some people are still without electricity. Another nor’easter is coming this week but will be far less destructive as the moon is no longer full. We could get rain or even snow.

I used to love to play jacks. Every Christmas in my stocking and most Easters in my basket I’d get a new set of jacks. I’d sit on the floor and toss the ball then hurry to pick up the jacks, starting with onesies. For some reason all the numbers were like that. After onesies came twosies then threesies then on and on. The throw was always the key. Another small favorite toy was the wooden paddle with the red rubber ball attached by an elastic. At first I’d be totally frustrated. I’d hit the ball, and it would fly back and hit me in the face or some other part of my body. Sometimes I’d get so frustrated I’d even throw the paddle but then I’d always pick it up and try again and eventually I’d coordinate my eye and hand. My mother sent me one of those when I was in the Peace Corps. My friends and I would stand in the back of one of our houses and have contests. We got really good and paddled into the hundred’s. It was, until the elastic broke, one of our favorite diversions. We didn’t need much to keep us occupied.

In Ghana, the day started early and ended early. It was in the evening that my friends and I would get together. We always ate supper together. The table and chairs were brought outside during the dry season. When it got dark, we’d go inside. We played word games and listened to music. Once in a while they’d be a movie in town at the Hotel d’Bull. It was usually really old or Indian, but we didn’t care. It was a grand night on the town.

I never got bored in Ghana. What I didn’t have didn’t matter. Living there was more than enough.

“Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.”

October 2, 2017

I’m getting used to these beautiful fall days. Earlier, the morning was crispy and chilly, but the bright sun has dispelled the chill. The sky is a deep blue. A breeze shakes the branches, and more leaves keep falling, mostly oak leaves. I was excited and surprised to see newly bloomed flowers in my front garden. The flowers are purple, and that’s all I know about them. Now,hite and purple flowers are blooming in the front beds. It as if the garden is giving me its last gifts before the end of fall, before the coming winter.

I slept the whole night last night. The phone woke me at 8:15. It was a robo-call which I didn’t answer. Ten minutes later there was another call, but this one I answered. I knew the caller. Gracie then joined me on the couch, and we both went back to sleep.  The phone woke me again, and I cursed until I saw the time. It was late morning, close to ten. I answered the call then got up and began my morning rituals.

I am getting braced for the coldest times of year, for winter. In Ghana this time of year I braced for the dry season, for the total lack of rain for at least 5 months. I knew intense heat was coming with days hot enough to melt my unlit candle, but I also knew a reprieve was coming. The nights would start to get chilly, not New England chilly but chilly by comparison with the days. The temperature dropped over 30˚ every night. My bedroom had two rows of louvered windows; one row was the whole length of the wall beside my bed while the other was a single louvered window on the end wall next to the armoire. I’d leave the windows opened. It got cold, but feeling cold was glorious. I’d snuggle under the wool blanket I kept on my bed. I still have that blanket and keep it folded over the back of my couch. It brings smile from all the memories. It is also pretty itchy. I guess I forgot that part.

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

June 5, 2017

Last night was a long one. It rained the whole night. Gracie and I went out at about ten. I got a bit wet and so did she. I was still wide awake an hour or so later so I watched a Hallmark movie. Yes, it had a happy ending despite arson, theft and a murder. At one, after the movie, I roused Gracie to take her out again. She got to the door and backed away, but I was insistent. I should have paid more attention. It was a deluge, but she needed out for the night so I pushed her out the front door with me unhappily behind her. Though I ran as quickly into the house as I could, I got soaked anyway and so did she.

This morning at about eight, Gracie was restless, and she woke me up. We went outside. It was wet but not rainy. It was cold. We came back inside and I went back to bed, or back to couch to be more specific. I snuggled under the covers and the cozy warmth lulled me to sleep. Gracie joined me. I woke up at ten. Gracie was still asleep so I rousted her to get her outside. I led her to the yard then ran inside the house and made coffee. I read the papers and had two cups of coffee. It was a leisurely morning.

Rain is expected again today so the sky is mighty dark. What a surprise! I have some errands, and it is chilly enough for Gracie to come.

When I was a kid, rainy days always seemed different than other days. My classroom seemed quieter. The rustle of papers sounded loud. The rain on the windows caught my attention as the drops slid down the glass and disappeared. The day seemed longer. Lunch was inside, but we didn’t really care. The rain seemed to drain our energy.

In Ghana, I loved the rain. After the dry season ended, every rainstorm was a bit of a miracle. The brown turned green. The dust became soil. Trees sprouted leaves. The fallow fields came alive with the tiny shoots of corn and millet. Rivers sometimes overflowed their banks. I always felt the rain and never minded getting wet.

“You either get the point of Africa or you don’t. What draws me back year after year is that it’s like seeing the world with the lid off.”

August 14, 2016

Big surprise: today is hot, already 88˚, and combined with the 70% humidity it feels like 100˚. I was on the deck earlier checking the plants. They have to be watered again, but I’ll wait until later in the day hoping it will be cooler.

When I arrived in Ghana for Peace Corps training, I knew nothing about Africa. The books and mimeographed materials from Peace Corps didn’t do much in helping me understand where I was going. Knowing there were two seasons, rainy and dry, had me picturing what rainy and dry look like here, that was all I had for reference. Descriptions of Ghanaian culture were like excerpts from a geography book. I read about the different tribes and where they lived. The country was divided into regions, a bit like our states.

Before we left Philadelphia for Ghana, I found out I was going to be posted in the Upper Region, only a place on the map to me. The Upper Region spanned all the way across the whole top section of Ghana from east to west. I was to be posted in its capital, Bolgatanga.

When I went to Bolga for a week during training, it was the rainy season when everything is green, and the market is filled with all sorts of fruit and vegetables. I figured that would be Bolga all the time. I was totally wrong.

When training was over, I made my way home, to Bolga. I stopped overnight in Kumasi, about the halfway mark. I always added an overnight so I could visit friends along the way. The trip from Accra to Kumasi was a wonderful train ride. From Kumasi to Bolga was a bus or lorry ride, always hot and always crammed with people.

Bolga was still in the rainy season when I moved into my house. The rains stopped a month or two later. Everything dried. The ground split. Nothing stayed green. My lips and the heels of my feet split. I walked on tiptoes. I learned to take bucket baths. My meals never varied. Breakfast was two eggs cooked in groundnut oil and two pieces of toast. Lunch was fruit. Dinner was beef cooked in tomato broth, a necessity to make the meat tender, or chicken. Yams were the side dish, sometimes in a mash and sometimes cooked with the meat. I always drank water except in the morning when I drank instant coffee with canned milk.

I never minded the same meals or the dry season. I was astonished every day that I was  living in Africa. I loved Bolga whether rainy or dry. My friends and I would often look at the sky and say it looked like rain. That was a joke, and we never got tired of it. We knew the rain was months away. If we found something new in the market, it was cause for celebration. If we didn’t, it didn’t matter.

In about five weeks, I’ll be back home in Bolga.

“Nothing reminds us of an awakening more than rain.”

April 12, 2016

Today I started early with a nine o’cock meeting. When it had finished, I went to the bank, the post office and the grocery store. I got home after eleven and had another cup of coffee while I read my second newspaper and my e-mail. It was while I was reading the local news I realized how tired I was so I decided to take a morning nap. Gracie must have felt the same way because she joined me upstairs. We just woke up. Gracie, though, is now back to napping, and I’m still tired.

When I looked out the window this morning, I saw a cloudy, ugly sort of day. When I went outside to leave, I was surprised at how warm it was. My car said 55˚, almost balmy for this time of year especially with no sun. I knew it was supposed to rain during some part of the day and it did just as I arrived home. All I would have needed was four more minutes so I could have gotten the dog, my packages and me inside without getting wet.

The easiest way to describe the weather is to say it’s a rainy day, but that’s just the beginning. What sort of rain? All rain storms don’t fall from the sky in the same way, but they do have two things in common: they get you wet and all the rain ends up in the same place, down. My favorite description of rain is one my mother used to use. She’d say it was spitting rain, and I knew exactly what she meant. The earlier rain I got stuck in was heavy. My mother would have called it a deluge. Sometimes rain is torrential. Other times it rains cats and dogs. Sprinkling is the lightest of rains. Coming down in buckets is just the opposite. I remember the rain falling on the long windows when I was in elementary school. The drops would hit the windows then drizzle down until they disappeared. When the wind is great, the rain falls sideways. Some storms have pounding rain. They are probably my least favorite because I always get so wet.

My favorites of all storms are in Ghana at the start of the rainy season. After months of no rain the sky turns almost black and the clouds darken the day. All of a sudden the wind and the rain start with unbelievable ferocity. Trees bend under the onslaught. Lightning strikes jaggedly across the sky. I once saw it hit the ground. The dry, hard earth can’t absorb the rain so it forms rivulets which run and make furrows on the ground. Sometimes the rain is so magnificent I can’t catch my breath from the awe of it. I stand and watch until the storm wears itself out and the sun comes back. I know the dry season is over and it will rain just about every day, but it is this first rain which I’ll remember.

“In my opinion, too much attention to weather makes for instability of character.”

February 27, 2015

Today is balmy at 24˚. When I woke up, the sun was bright and framed by a deep blue sky, but the perpetual grayness of this winter has reappeared. There are now only patches of blue, and the sun has become a hazy light from behind a cloud. Tonight will be in the teens but with no wind. Next week one day will be in the 40’s if the forecast holds true. I’m expecting a parade and fireworks and picnics on the town green.

Lethargic pretty much describes me. I read a whole book from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday night and then started on another. I did change my bed and the cat litter yesterday and went to the store as I had no bread. That’s it. That’s all I did, and I exhausted myself. Winter’s cold saps my energy.

I don’t know how old we are when weather becomes an issue, a topic of conversation. When I was a kid, the weather just happened. I got wet when it rained and cold when it snowed, but neither bothered me. It was hot in the summer, but that’s what summer is. Sitting under a tree for a while and running through the sprinklers were cure-alls for a hot day. The hot nights never stopped us from falling asleep. We were exhausted from playing all day. In my early 20’s I was in Ghana where 100+ degrees was the every day temperature this time of year. I didn’t complain about that either. I went to bed soaking wet after my shower and easily fell asleep as I air-dried.

Growing older and complaining about the weather are connected. I need the house warmer than I used to both during the day and at night. 68˚ is my usual daytime high though I’ll turn it higher if I’m cold. 64˚ is nighttime. I used to keep my house at 66˚ during the day and 58˚ at night. The two cats I had both slept under the covers. They were Siamese and liked warmth. Now, I can’t even imagine the house that cold.

Yesterday was snowing when I went out. A lady walked by me and said, “Oh my God more snow,” then kept walking. Weather does bring people together giving even strangers something to talk about.

“And in this moment, like a swift intake of breath, the rain came.”

September 13, 2013

The rain started when I was sleeping but wasn’t unexpected. It is still raining but hardly, only drop by drop slowly, and I can hear the drops falling on the umbrella. The day has a calmness about it despite the rain. The house is dark and quiet. Today is a favorite sort of day.

Yesterday Gracie had a run-in with a baby spawn which sounds a bit redundant so maybe spawnette would be a better word. Anyway, I heard a bit of a commotion and went into the yard. Gracie had the spawnette running through and around her legs. It was the safest place, a spot where Gracie couldn’t get at it. Gracie kept trying but wasn’t too successful. Finally the creature started to run and the paw got it, sort of flattened the spawn which then ran between Gracie’s legs again. It tried running away a few times but each time Gracie got it. I yelled for Gracie to come, and, as usual, Gracie ignored me. Here’s the irony: I used the hose on Gracie who ran. The spawn went underneath the outdoor shower for safety. I went into the house: mission accomplished. A bit later Gracie came in: her nose and mouth were covered in dirt. I knew she’d been digging. Sure as heck she’d dug a hole under the shower. I didn’t find a dead spawn so it must have gotten away. Much to her consternation, I washed Gracie’s face and cleaned her mouth.

The dry season in northern Ghana lasted half the year. We used to check out the morning sky and say it looked like rain, knowing we had months before it would rain again. The water was often turned off for two or three days most weeks, but we usually knew in advance so we filled our metal buckets with water and lined them up against the wall in the shower room. We also filled every water bottle. At night I’d take a bucket bath and then use the remaining water to flush the toilet. Without water, the grasses turned brown and the soil became dust. Any traveling meant dust in you mouth and all over your body and your clothes. Mammy lorries traveling on laterite roads were followed by dust clouds. I always thought of the old west and stagecoaches when I saw dust billowing behind the lorries.

I loved the start of the rainy season when the storms were most dramatic with thunder shaking the house and lightning bolts hitting the ground where you could see them. I loved the rain when it fell in Bolga.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

March 9, 2013

Enough! Enough! I have endured too many sunless days. Today is cold and cloudy. I can deal with cold, but I’m sick and tired of cloudy. That last storm with its snow, rain, slush and wild wind was just a walk in the park on a nasty day, more like nasty days as the storm lasted close to three days. Nobody complained. Most people just shrugged. That’s the way it’s been. I am, however, out of shrugs. I’m complaining. Give me some sun!

When I lived in Ghana, we went months without rain during the dry season. The sky was blue every day. The grasses were dead, browned by lack of rain. The fields were empty. Any leftover millet stalks had been burned away. Every day was the same. We used to joke by saying it looked like rain knowing full well rain was months away. That never got to me. I knew what to expect. I knew the rains would come as they did every year. It was just a matter of patience.

This morning I filled the bird feeders. It was from guilt because when I looked out the kitchen window I saw a house finch and a gold finch sitting longingly at the empty feeder. I filled a bag with sunflower seeds and went out and filled all three feeders. It was cold out there, and I expect the birds to be appreciative. A thank you banner wouldn’t be amiss.

A few of the daffodils I bought the other day have finally opened. The flowers are beautiful, and their bright yellow has helped a little to satisfy my need for color.

Winter clothes should be colorful. We should be wearing bright blues and yellows and pinks and any other colors which catch our eyes. It is the season most in need of color and the one with the least. Next year I will wear colors all winter.

“Have you watched the fairies when the rain is done, Spreading out their little wings to dry them in the sun?”

May 24, 2011

Evolutionary changes are supposed to happen over eons, not in a few weeks, so why have my feet begun to web together? Soon enough I’ll look like Kevin Cosner in Waterworld. The day is 61° and it is damp from the pouring rain of last night, but I’ve decided to look on it all with great optimism. Everything got planted yesterday so the rain will help my new herbs and flowers feel more at home. I’m sure they’re stretching their roots right now. My grass will stay, and here is that word again, lush. But when the sun does return, I’ll celebrate and welcome it, and I’m already planning a summer solstice gala. Druid dress is optional.

I loved the rainy season in Ghana. All the grass turned a spectacular green, the fields were filled with millet getting taller and taller, baobab trees had leaves, the market was bursting with fresh produce and everywhere looked sparkling and new. It was quite a contrast from the dry season when it didn’t rain from September until late April or early May, and every day was sunny. The sky, except during the harmattan, was blue. We used to joke and say today looked like rain. Everything turned brown: all the grasses and the fields surrounding the school. The farmers, in the field behind us, worked on their compounds redoing walls and roofs. They’d sing and dance at night. We could hear the drums. We longed for rain, but it came with a price. As we’d get closer to the rainy season, the days got hotter and more humid. The nights got uncomfortable for sleeping so I’d move my mattress outside and sleep in the backyard. We all waited for that first storm which was always spectacular. But after those first magnificent storms, the rain settled into a pattern, and it would rain every day for parts of the day. The rainy season was always my favorite time of year so maybe, just maybe, I should remember that more often, especially now.