Normally we wait, complaining endlessly about the heat, the humidity. We make bets, even the local newspaper holds a competition “When’s it gonna rain?”. October drags on, like a big, old, nasty oven. November is like a sauna except there are no old geezers sitting around in just a towel. And then December rolls in with Hughie at the helm. All darkness and thunder, lightning and rain. The Wet season finally arrives. But this year, oh, this year is a wonderful exception…
It’s mid-October and we Top Enders have felt relief already. What stations are getting rain are skiting about it on Facebook, joyous in that hopefully this year won’t be as bad as the last. The townies are loving it too. It’s soothing and refreshing.
I was quite happy on the Monday night to watch sporadic raindrops plop on my windscreen after I finished having dinner with a friend. Another friend turned on her wipers due to rain whilst on the dirt tracks of a station on the Sturt Plateau. Then a post on Facebook lifted my spirits when the station owners where my cattle are agisted announced that some places on the property had 20mm.
And why, do you ask, are we so bewildered and delighted with the rain? To a Southerner it highlights dreary weather that can’t be enjoyed, only the farmers appreciate it. To us it is life.
I’d been watching the rain build up in the clouds while down at Mataranka checking fruit fly traps in mango orchards. As my colleague and I left the area, I watched as the clouds got too heavy and dropped its load directly on top of the station my cattle are on. I did a happy dance every time I looked back in the car mirror and sung about it in the worst, off-tune fashion I could much to the annoyance of my colleague (who deserves to frequently be annoyed by the way).
Katherine was still building up, still waiting its turn. It took a few hours but by 6:30pm it was done and down it came. Heading down the highway I noticed two horses galloping towards a tiny clump of trees where 15 other horses had already beaten them to it. They didn’t care, their tails were in the air and their ears were forward and their heads held high as they maintained their stride. For them it was an exciting time too.
On the road home it was like a disco. The puddles reflected my headlights into the trees and the lightning broke the darkness. Every drop of rain that fell into the wheel ruts sparkled as the lights hit them. Steam rose from the bitumen. I had strobe lights, a disco ball and a smoke machine all gifted to me by Hughie. Pity the CD player carked it last week! A bit of Luke Bryan and Jerrod Niemann would have topped it off just nicely with their party/country anthems.
Despite the fact that I had a strong feeling that we were going to get rain in October I didn’t trust myself enough to believe it. Part of that strong feeling included that we might not see rain again until December. A mate, ever the optimist, told me there was a sixty percent chance of rain this week and I doubted him. “Only sixty!” I pointed out.
I’m hoping that the second part of my strong feeling is off and that we don’t have to wait well over a month for more rain. I’m hoping that it comes sooner. Because it’s got us all excited now. The green pick can start to come up. The brolgas will start dancing. The cattle will fatten. The wildlife will reappear. The waterholes will fill. The creeks will flow. The country will clean itself. The landscape will come alive. The Territory will be new again.