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