Personal Insights: A Cork man living in Zambia reflects on ... the weather

Writing from Zambia last month and having travelled and lived widely in East Africa Cork man, Brian Sexton, reflects on the international language of weather.

Personal Insights: A Cork man living in Zambia reflects on ... the weather

A friend of mine Whattsapped me the other day from Nine Mile Bridge, a village nestled in the borders of Waterford and Tipperary, whose name often conjured up an architectural marvel.

“You would not believe the rain here,” she gasped as she went on to detail the incessant pourings from the heavens, blocking and backing up drains and how the unrelenting grey skies would “put years on you”.

Her plaintiff recount excited and broadened my wistful smile as it was prompted by own antonymic narrative of the parched and thirsty air of Lusaka, Zambia.

Zambia, a shy yet enchanting country tucked away in South west Africa, overshadowed by its headline grabbing neighbours, Zimbabwe and Congo, is in the throws of weather complaint too.

A raindrop has not kissed the arid soil here since February but of course this is part of the rain patterns that sashay up and down the expanse of this vast continent.

However Zambia is experiencing one of the worst droughts in memory and consequently our light regularly dies with the immediate setting sun.

Rain or the rains here are what keep the turbines turning and the switches giving illumination to the world.

The blue ( Nike ) tick told me she had read my reply but my phone made no beep. Perhaps the wifi connection had drowned in the lace Irish mists.

The weather is a great conversation prompter no matter which corner of the globe you find yourself in.

My own years in Ireland were soaked and curtained in soft celtic mists, in other words it was lashing for much of my distant memory.

The smell of dog from my school duffle coat as the steam swirled from it before the open December fire have fabulous memories for me now. A leaking drain pipe that would before have drummed me to madness now seems only rejuvenating.

So here in Zambia as we wait expectantly for the rains and some cooling of the 38 degree languid air, as pendulous avocadoes sway and groan on the branches outside my mosquitoe sieged kitchen window, I do imagine far away hills that are green, Nine Mile Bridge being snuggled amongst one of them.

The ac doesn’t quite cut it as it tries to nurture a north pole chill.

Last week I thought I could smell the advance of the rains. Delirium or heightened senses?

Well in fact there is a very word for this anticipation and it is petrichor. Petrichor is defined as the smell of rain in the air or after contact.

I thought I had stumbled upon some Greek historical, mythological meaning that was well hidden but when I chatted with my Zambian friends there were no raised eyebrows, no surprise, petrichor is part of the lexicon here – the smell of rain!

And so the ( Nike ) blue tick gave way to “typing” from my friend.

“Petrichor?” she frenziedly wrote in text speak “Jesus we don’t get a chance for that guff …

"It’s absolutely milling here".

So the weather is a great conversation and long may it continue … rain or shine and from whichever hill you’re looking from.

This submission is part of a new digital initiative on irishexaminer.com called Personal Insights.
As part of the Personal Insights initiative we are asking readers, creative writing groups and writing enthusiasts in general to share personal essays chronicling an experience which has impacted their lives and any learnings from that life experience they would like to share with a wider audience.
The essays should be sent directly to the executive editor for news and digital, Dolan O’Hagan, at dolan.ohagan@examiner.ie for consideration.
Please note all submissions should be given the subject line ‘Personal Insights submission’ to ensure they are picked up and should include any related imagery and a contact telephone number.
Only submissions which meet the Irish Examiner’s own strict journalistic, ethical and legal guidelines will be considered for publication.
The Irish Examiner reserves the right to edit submissions in line with those guidelines and before publication direct contact will be made with the person who has submitted the content.
No payment will be made for submissions and our decision as regards publication is final.
Our goal is to publish one submission per week and use all our powers to make sure it is seen by as wide an audience as possible.
We look forward to reading your stories.

More on this topic

Personal Insights: A Christmas Eve celebration which almost cost me my lifePersonal Insights: A Christmas Eve celebration which almost cost me my life

Personal Insights: Embrace the season and listen to the stories of our new arrivalsPersonal Insights: Embrace the season and listen to the stories of our new arrivals

Personal Insights: Come on Ireland, why not take a compliment for a changePersonal Insights: Come on Ireland, why not take a compliment for a change

Personal Insights: We live in scary times but goodness in the world - and chocolate - must never be forgotten Personal Insights: We live in scary times but goodness in the world - and chocolate - must never be forgotten