Written by Paula Richter.
There is nothing quite like the month of October in the Kalahari. It is blisteringly hot, and this change in temperature is rapid.
The older people in the area will often say you can’t write off winter until the middle of September –we usually get one final cold snap, with temperatures plummeting to chilly single digits in the evenings.
However, once October hits it is goodbye winter – or anything even close to it!
As the temperatures start to reach 40°C (104°F) in the day, we simultaneously experience the driest time of the year.
The dust is on everything and it feels as if you spend a lot of your day choking on it.
The tension one can feel between all living things is palpable. Even the plants seem to exude a feeling of desperation … and we all simply wait, in a dry, hot, dusty frustration.
We wait for the rain to come.
It is impossible to describe the exhilaration of the first rainfall. You can feel it coming – the temperature seems to rise suddenly due to the humidity.
You start to sweat where you are sitting. The wind starts to blow. There is a distant rumble of thunder.
Both man and beast react to the possibility that today could be the day: the first drops of reprieve; all of us coming out into the open areas, gathering to welcome the arrival of water – of life.
As the first few drops start to pitter-patter softly down, everyone and everything waits; holding their breath, willing the wind to get stronger, the thunder louder, the lightning more fierce.
We will that the rain will come.
As the drops start to get more and more and come down harder and harder, you don’t move.
You don’t head for cover.
You let that cold first rain soak you.
You run, you dance, you feel the energy shift.
The desperation you felt in the morning is gone, and the relief in the air can be felt with your fingertips.
Every living thing is re-energized. The dust has settled, and the promise of what is to come gives us all renewed hope.
The rainy season in the Kalahari holds many lessons. I try to carry this feeling with me in life. No matter the length and brutality of the drought, the rain will always come – and when it does, it will be worth the wait.