Last week the rain came at last. Dark clouds drifted over from the west and it began to bucket down. We went to sleep to that much-loved sound of rain on the tin roof. My husband loves it so much he refuses to get insulation in the ceiling for fear it will dampen the sound. It overflowed our uncleared gutters and saturated the verandah, but both tanks are now full and the dam is brimming. Next door the dam overflowed down into a gully on a neighbouring property, a temporary roaring waterfall. Everything feels clean and the grass became instantly green.
By Sunday it had eased and begun moving out to sea. We drove to a local waterhole to see how it looked now. Water flowed across the causeway, so we parked and waded through the shallow but swiftly flowing current to get across and then walk through the bush along the far bank to get to the swimming hole. The water was flowing fast, but slowed here as it widened and deepened. Maggie scrambled in as soon as she got there. We sat and watched on what little of the bank was left to sit on. The water level was higher, but not as high as it had been and we cursed ourselves for not taking away the pile of rubbish we saw there last time, left behind by people who don’t value these beautiful places. It was gone, washed down the river–bits of plastic and glass that may reek havoc on marine life out in the bay.
I eventually followed Maggie in and dove under the fresh flowing water. I grew up swimming in these kinds of swimming holes and they are still my favourite. They literally wash away stress. While the weather is still warm we plan to return with friends for a picnic. Old fashioned stuff, but a great day out.
We waited all summer for the rain to come, but it never did. Now we are officially in Autumn. Last night there was a brief heavy downpour and there have been brief showers today. Our tank is about full, but our dam is almost dry.
Before I watered my plants yesterday afternoon I walked down to check the water level. As Maggie ran ahead of me as usual a wallaby bounded away up the hill into the next property. I tell her she mustn’t chase the wallabies; goannas are fine, but not wallabies. The float, which is attached to the hose from the pump to keep it from sinking to the bottom and sucking up mud, is not floating. It is resting on the bottom of the dam. I don’t turn on the pump in case it does suck up mud and breaks. I finally have to water the plants with a watering can using the house tank. This can’t go on.
I constructed a vegetable garden up on the hill a few months ago. My existing garden beds have become too shaded as the trees have grown up over them. To lop them would be very expensive as they are on a slope and not very accessible. I haphazardly planted beans and lettuce and silverbeet seedlings in the new garden. I put a net over them, but as they grew, had to pull it back to give them room. Inevitably, the chooks or scrub turkeys or both destroyed them. It serves me right; I need to fence and net them properly. A pumpkin vine survives, but I hold slim hope of getting any pumpkins. You can’t garden half-heartedly. At least I still have lots of herbs.
But this lack of rain is worrying. Bushfire is a constant threat in the back of my mind, even though Queensland doesn’t usually have big fires, unlike the southern states. It’s humid here in the summer, whereas it’s very dry in the summer down south. Our bushfire season is late winter and spring–August to November when the rain usually returns. The Rural Fire Brigade have been warning of a bad season every year for the past few years, but not much happens. When we have a lot of rain over the summer they say it means there’ll be lots of fuel to burn. If we have little rain over summer, does this mean there will be less fuel? I think it means everything will be that much drier and more likely to burn. It’s been more than 40 years since there were big fires in this area. Perhaps that means we’re overdue.