Rainy season has begun. We are sitting through our biggest storm of the new season, and it’s only our second. It rained on us Saturday afternoon, a nice little shower, as we sat in the parking lot of the fastest internet service provider in town trying to Skype with the Mission Vision Team of Landmark Church of Christ, our primary supporting congregation. Yesterday we got our first good rain here at the house, but not this heavy or brilliant. Now it is raining: cats and dogs, buckets, gushers, raining up a storm, a real gullywhomper thunderstorm.
And it is lightening. Most of the strikes are 2.5-3 seconds away. One was less, and threw our main breaker. I had just unplugged our laptop, the printer next to it, a heavy-duty surge protector which fed the electronic piano, and an uninterrupted power supply which carries our desktop. Then the blue-white flash of light and “Craaackkkk”. Our house is on the highest hill for some miles around. I am aware that we could use lightning rods, but our house built on a rock would have a hard time finding ground. How long can the lead wire be?
Two weeks ago it was hot, very hot. But about a week ago, as rain began to fall within sight of the house, the temperature graciously dipped as well. The clouds have been hiding the sun and the breeze has kissed our arms and brows after coming through the drops that we can see falling in the distance: relief from the heat. The sun has passed overhead on its journey south in relation to the earth, and will be back in a few weeks, after its overhead rendezvous with the tropic of Capricorn. Though my logic says it should remain hot, a critical point has been reached such that the updrafts provoked by those rays work steadily every morning lofting water droplets off Lake Malawi and the Indian Ocean which in turn cool, condense and fall to freshen the breeze blowing our way. Even from unseen parts we feel the results. Where seen, it is beautiful as the cumulonimbus billow overhead higher than we fly when coming here, sheets of rain fall, marching across the Lumbadzi River valley north and east of us, progressively hiding the Dowa mountains in the distance, visually demonstrating the process which brings us relief, and water to settle the dust and seemingly awaken the world.
Many have already planted. Others are doing so now. Napoleon and other large farmers are busy spraying herbicides before their fields are taken over ere the corn even sprouts. Fields prepared by hand have been ready for several weeks revealing freshly brown broken lumps of clay. A few are still being turned by hoe. But now it is planting time, and most are at it. The frogs form a deep-throated “amen” chorus, welcoming the gushers as the storm passes and the rain subsides to a drizzle. The birds sing after the rain as if it were morning again, and maybe it is, a seasonal morning of new life.
For several days now the little orange and blue-black beetles (see “Lava Bugs”, posted Wednesday, March 17) have swarmed our ceiling and walls. We’ve learned that the mosquito coils we use have no effect on them, but they occasionally do fall off the ceiling to crawl through hats and hair, down our necks or up our sleeves. Interesting little critters—they do keep you awake in the late evenings with dim light and the press of the day every heavier on the eyelids. The mosquito population has not changed much yet. But they will soon catch up. We’ve been trying to get the holes in our roof patched and some better screens on our house, whose windows are filled with an eclectic ensemble of American and African architecture, each having its respective advantages, mostly in its proper place, but together conflicting frustratingly and preventing the best use of each the other’s features. The carpenters on campus have been tied up for weeks on other projects of higher priority, so we are making efforts to get those underway—and hopefully finished—soon. Then the blessings of rainy season will not be slighted by its problems, and we’ll be able to enjoy without compromise the cool rebirth of life which will bless the next few months.
Then today I learned that a dear friend and her husband are both infected with HIV, and he is ill. I am poignantly reminded in this season otherwise refreshing of the wise preacher’s comment that there is a time for everything: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to be happy, and a time to be sad. And sometimes in the many lives playing out before us, those times come to meet each other.