Posted tagged ‘rainy season’

“Let us keep the dance of rain our fathers kept and tread our dreams beneath the jungle sky.”

April 13, 2019

I was between asleep and awake when I heard the rain. It was dripping from the roof to the overhang below my window. I stayed in bed just a bit to listen. When I got downstairs and let Henry out, I was surprised to see the rain was mere drops, one by one. I hardly got wet running for the papers.

The sky is still cloudy, but the rain has since stopped.

This morning it is Barracuda, a film made in 1978. The director, the writer and the star are all the same person, Wayne Crawford. I guessed the decade of the movie before I looked. The houses are all low slung, a Brady Bunch sort of look. The men’s bathing suits are those striped gym sort of shorts. Women are in bikinis but not so skinny as now. When the barracudas strike, the water is roiled and all you can see is blood, not so special effects. My favorite scene so far is of the mouth of the barracuda with a leg sticking out.

When I was a kid, a rainy Saturday was the worst. I’d beg my mother to let me ride my bike anyway. I usually lost that argument. All four of us stuck inside drove my mother crazy. If I had a book, I’d find a quiet spot and read the afternoon away, but no book meant boredom. TV was the only other diversion but even that got boring. I’d keep checking out the windows hoping the rain had stopped. If it had stopped, I was out the door with bike in hand. Riding after a rainstorm was great fun. I’d ride through every puddle I could, and I’d watch the fan of water spread out from each side of my front tire. I’d raise my legs off the pedals so I wouldn’t get wet.

One of my friends gave me a fold up umbrella as a going away present before I left for Ghana. It was the rainy season there. During the first week of training, I used the umbrella on my walk to language class. When the class was finished, I sat out of the rain to watch it for a while. When I left to go back to my room, I forgot my umbrella. Once I realized, I hurried back. The umbrella was gone. I was upset, but in the long run, it didn’t matter. I never saw anyone carry a rain umbrellas. People either got wet or found a place out of the rain. I sat in a kiosk once, invited by the owner. I was an object of curiosity. Every person walking by looked and I suppose wondered why the white woman was in the kiosk. I always said, “Barka da yamma,” good afternoon in Hausa to each of them. I always got smiles.

“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.

“Daffodils are yellow trumpets of spring”

March 9, 2018

If this is a test of my sanity, I am on shaky ground. In Ghana there was a rainy season and a dry season. I knew what to expect and around when to expect it. My friends and I, during the dry season, would look at the sky and wonder if it was going to rain. That was a joke of sorts. We knew the rain wouldn’t come until April. The sun would beat down and dry everything until then. The ground became dust, blown and whirled by the winds from the desert, the harmattan winds. Our lips cracked from the dryness, but it wasn’t unexpected. We were ready for all that heat and no rain.

I haven’t seen the sun in days. The clouds are darker now, a bit more menacing. I need the sun. I want it to be so bright outside I have to squint my eyes. I want to stand on the deck and be warm. My patience is almost gone. I want to scream, “No more! No More!”

Today I have to go to the dump. Gracie would have loved the trip.

My laundry is back to its usual spot, leaning against the cellar door. My plan is to do it today before it grows and takes on a life of its own. That’s what happened the last time. Had I been a character in a Disney movie, my laundry would have been singing and dancing. I’m picturing a conga line of shirts followed by a line of pants doing the can can and singing a catchy tune as they make their way to the washing machine.

My house is nice and clean. Roseana and Lee came yesterday. My contribution was lifting my legs so Lee could vacuum under them. He even put all the trash and recycling bags into the trunk for today’s dump run. I also have a couple of other stops. I have streamlined my to do’s so I waste only a single day.

My garden doesn’t mind the gray days. It still grows. I check it every morning and every morning I notice more and more green shoots have been appearing in my front garden. I see daffodils joining the already blooming crocus or croci if we use Latin’s second declension masculine plural for words ending in us. I had four years of Latin in high school, a feat of no small dimension.

“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.

“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”

January 26, 2017

“Rain, rain go away come again another day.” When I was young, I thought this nursery rhyme had a bit of magic about it. If I sang it enough times, the sun would reappear, and I could go out to play. I’m singing it now with the same hope. It has been raining since Monday. The sky alternates between angry clouds and greyish white clouds. The rain is sometimes heavy and other times just a fine mist, spitting rain my mother use to call it. I saw the sun for an hour or so the other day. It gave me a bit of hope.

I do a couple of house chores every day. Yesterday I watered plants, changed my bed and paid my bills. I haven’t gone anywhere, haven’t wanted or needed to. Tomorrow, though, I have a list of errands so Gracie and I will hit the road. Maybe if I cross my fingers and wish for sun, it might work.

When I was young, I had snow boots but not rain boots. Nobody I knew had them either. I also didn’t have a raincoat or an umbrella. I always got wet. It was the usual thing.

During the rainy season in Ghana, I got wet. Sometimes I had to run from my house to the classroom block when the rain was heavy, but I didn’t mind. The rain was always welcome. I’d even shop in the market while it was raining, but if the rain got really heavy, I’d stand in the doorway of a building or inside a small kiosk until it lightened or stopped. The rain was a gift to make crops grow.

I love the sound of rain. Even when I was kid, I loved the rain beating on my bedroom window. In Ghana the rain on the tin roof of my classroom was sometimes so loud that I couldn’t teach, but I could fall asleep listening to the rain. Its steady beat was comforting in a way, amost like music, maybe even a lullaby.

“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.

“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.

“I said I was impressed, Martha. I’m beside myself with jealousy. What do you want me to do, throw up?”

July 23, 2013

The paper says thunder showers today, not the probability of showers, but real rain. When I was out on the deck with my coffee and papers, it was humid and thick. I could feel the moisture in the air. Luckily a breeze was strong enough to keep me from wilting. I decided not to bring my  laptop into all that humidity so I came back inside which doesn’t have the benefit of that breeze. The room is close.

The birds flew in and out at the feeders while I was there. Because no birds were at the suet feeder, I checked, and found it empty so I brought out a new cake and filled it. This one is peanut butter. I hope the birds are appreciative. No amorous doings on the deck or in the yard this morning. I do think I saw a red spawn lounging on a limb having a cigarette.

Hyannis will be filled today, and I have a doctor’s appointment there. This is when I wish I was Samantha and could wiggle my nose and be anywhere or had floo powder like the Weasley’s and Harry Potter. One toss in the fireplace, and I’d be there.

The entire neighborhood sounds deserted. I hear a bird now and then but no voices. I wonder where everyone went.

It is getting lighter out so now I’m going to start cursing the Cape Cod Times weatherman. I want that rain and that thunder. I’m hoping I can be outside and stay dry under my umbrella while it rains all around me. I love the sound of rain hitting that umbrella. In Ghana, it was the sound of rain hitting the tin roof of my house and my classrooms. The sound was so loud it made teaching nearly impossible. That is one of my strongest memories of the rainy season in Ghana. It is also one of my favorite.

My friends Bill and Peg are going to Ghana in September, and I am totally jealous. My having been there the last two years doesn’t count. Peg hasn’t been since 1972, but Bill was there on business sometime in the mid 1990,s, but he didn’t make it to Bolga where we all lived. I’ve given them my tour books and my phone, and I’ll give them our students’ numbers. They, as I was, will be surprised by the size of Accra and the huge number of people and how unfamiliar it all looks. Bill has a map from 1970 so he’s going to look for our favorite places and for the Peace Corps hostel which I couldn’t find. He has promised to take pictures. Bolga, though much bigger, will still feel like home to them.

My life has been so amazing yet here I am complaining about staying home this summer. I do have Grace (if she gets her visa) to look forward to in August and Bill and Peg will be down in October. I suppose I’d best stop carping though I am still jealous of Bill and Peg!!

“Sewing mends the soul.”

February 28, 2013

Since Sunday it has rained every day but one. That was the teaser day when it looked as if spring was finally poking its head out of the snow, but that was just a single joyful day. Yesterday it poured and today is dark and grim, the kind of day when you know it’s going to rain but don’t know exactly when. Gracie and I haven’t yet done our dump run. It was pouring too much. We’ll go today before it starts to rain.

My neighbor is taking classes to be a masseuse. She asked if she could practice on me. It took me a nano second to agree. Yesterday I got a wonderful massage. She spent over an hour making me so relaxed my limbs forgot how to work. It was wonderful! When I was leaving, she asked if she could practice on me again and give me another massage. You can guess my answer!

The pant leg of my cozy pants caught on the bureau knob and a small hole became a large one. I grabbed my trusty stabler. I do have a sewing kit complete with everything I could have needed to sew the hole shut, but the stapler worked quickly and the hole disappeared. I just hope the staples don’t rust in the wash!

When I was in Ghana, I made my own bedroom curtains, a feat for which I felt accomplished because of my total lack of sewing skills. I could have had them made, but I wanted to give them a try. My room had a whole wall filled with two really large, long windows and another wall with a much smaller window. These windows had screens, and glass pieces like shutters which opened and closed with levers. I measured the length and height of the windows using a piece of cloth I already had as the measuring piece then went to the market and bought a cloth which was sort of a rusty-brown. The cloth had a pattern at the top and the bottom. I cut the cloth into three window pieces, hemmed the bottom of each so the pattern was still there then used string under a top seam so I could attach the curtains to the windows as I had no rods. The curtains looked great and gave me a sense of privacy, a rare commodity those days in Bolga where a white person was a curiosity.

I also made a lamp shade. I used a beautifully colored basket I had bought in the market. Since those days, Bolga baskets can be bought here and are really expensive. They are distinctive with their vibrant colors and handles with red leather. I probably paid a cedi or two and was definitely paying too much as bargaining still meant I’d over-pay. I cut out the bottom of the basket and fashioned a holder for the lightbulb from a hanger to replace the bottom. In my living room I had one light bulb on a long cord hanging from the really high ceiling, and the shade was for that bulb. Once it was attached to the bulb, it looked great though the room was far less bright than it had been. The top rim of the basket made a circle of light on the floor beneath the shade. In the rainy season, the buggy season, that circle light would be black by the end of the night, black with dead bugs.

I didn’t make anything else for my house. Those two, the curtains and the shade, were my only attempts at domesticity.