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Writing of the Week - It's raining


SWEET RAIN

Gerdette Rooney

Sweet rain is falling heavily - and I emigrated to escape it! I would never have called it sweet. In Ireland it was prevalent day in, day out, year round, all seasons. Forever a topic of daily conversation, it permeated small talk and broke barriers with strangers. The descriptions were numerous - downpours, sheets, torrents, bucketing down, and when it weakened to drizzle, ‘a soft day, thank God’.

We always had a rain barrel collecting rain off the shed 'spoutens' and weekly my mother had us bringing bucketsful in to boil on the stove to wash our hair. Whether it did actually give a better shine or glow to the complexion, who knows? Or was the idea just a throwback to past times before running water?

That was then and this is now. I’m in Australia and proud to be part of this sun-drenched landscape. The new weather word is 'drought' and all the descriptions and pain that go with it: a parched, caked bone-dry landscape; a scale for water scarcity and usage; penalties for using the hose or washing the car. Clouds gathering and going nowhere, unrelenting heat and desert mirages to torment and, more than anything, raise false hope. The furrowed brow is thinking: will it break today, tomorrow, soon, before the leaves wither and the cattle are too thirsty to bellow?

And now the bushfires - always there before but never like this. Hectares the size of Belgium blackened, gone. World Heritage sites devastated and unique species at risk of extinction. Wounded wildlife running puzzled. The government is hedging solutions too difficult to contemplate and in denial of climate change.

But for now, sweet rain is falling in sheets and torrents. It's bucketing down. Perhaps the Celtic gods have sent it from Ireland. Sweet indeed.



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