I’m so old, I can remember when it never used to rain. Just as well it was summertime because the doona was rarely on the bed – it was usually on the clothesline, tempting fate.
You’d dream about rain. Wake in the middle of the still, cloudless night to what you thought were drops on the roof. OK, not drops exactly. More like gushes and they came from possums, not the heavens. But the racket they made on the roof sounded so much like a rain dance that had I been able to speak possum, I would have asked if they took requests.
When city friends came to stay they’d look at you oddly when you said you’d rather they stank than have a shower. Or if they had to, limit it to a couple of minutes at most.
They didn’t get it. Or the shower.
Back in those days, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting the rain to stop. I just wanted it to start.
I’d scan long-range forecasts, having absolutely no idea what I was looking for. I thought isobars were some kind of Paddle Pop.
There was always someone in our village we recognised as the person to tell you when it was going to rain. Turns out his main credential was that his brother knew the sister of the guy who used to do the weather on the ABC. But we all thought he knew it all.
You’d nod at him in town, smile if he was smiling, frown and go home to ring up the water carter, again, if he wasn’t.
You felt defeated when you had to buy water.
It was like you failed somehow when water from the tanker poured into your tank – a tank that, pre-drought, had contained nothing more than pure rainwater – if you discount all the hairy floaty bits that I could have sworn had eyes.
In those days, you had to sometimes wait weeks for a water delivery and that’s when they had trucks working around the clock. And if it were ever going to rain, it would, naturally, on the day the water carter was due.
Back then, the idea that we’d actually want the rain to stop was tantamount to favouring a child. Not recommended.
Then all of a sudden it started to rain. People began talking about someone called Nina. I think her first name was La. She was the one credited with opening the heavens. It rained hard and often and brought with it hail that left cars looking like they had cellulite.
But it didn’t end. People stopped saying how good the rain was, how green everything looked, how full were the dams. They never actually said enough was enough, but you could tell they were close.
Bogged mowers and slashers became havens for the mice which were trying to escape from the snakes which had come in from wherever they live when they’re not under my clothesline.
It was great, at first.
Flowers you didn’t know were in your garden began to grow. Dead fruit trees started sprouting stuff that tasted like fruit used to taste.
Then things started to change colour, mouldy sorts of colours. Garden furniture started to sink into the ground like it was heading for China. You couldn’t walk anywhere without your feet becoming very attached to the ground. Mud rocked, literally.
With another dump forecast over the next few days, perhaps the only option is to enter one of those programs – you know the ones where people go to dry out.