We had out first good rains in September this year, and I can’t even begin to try and describe the renewal it brought about in the Free State’s towns and farms – which is anyway probably the same as anywhere else in SA’s summer grain production area. A new energy can be detected everywhere.
Rain rejuvenates the platteland like nothing else on God’s green earth. It’s so much more than just an act of nature to us. It determines the emotions and spiritual wellbeing of entire communities and releases positivity, as is so aptly described by Eugene Marais in ‘The Dance of the Rain’:
Oh, the dance of our Sister!
First, over the hilltop she peeps stealthily
and her eyes are shy
and she laughs softly
From afar she begs with her one hand
her wrist-bands shimmering and her bead-work sparkling
softly she calls
She tells the wind about the dance
and she invites it, because the yard is spacious and the wedding large.
(You can find a copy online at chessaleeinlondon.wordpress.com)
Yes, the wind really does dance when it rains in our part of the world. And the mighty thunderstorms add drama and suspense ahead of the new season – this time to plant, to hope, to fear and to witness new life.
I clearly remember walking behind my Dad as he followed the ploughs exposing the rich, red soil glimmering with moisture in preparation for the maize planting season. How he picked up a soil sample here and there, pressing it with his hand to determine the moisture content. He was happy then, as were all the other farmers in the district.
But I also remember the years when the relentless winds and dust storms kept the rain away. Those were the times when every drop of moisture was wrung from the earth by the ruthless wind and scorching sun.
I remember hearing Dad’s footsteps as he walked up and down stoep for hours, praying for deliverance. I’d see him and Mom age before my eyes during those terrible times.
But they became young and light-hearted again the moment their prayers were answered, and the first rains started falling.
So, with the advent of the 2012/2013 planting season, let’s all pray for a season full of hope, grace and good fortune for all of South Africa’s grain producers.
L’Chaim – to life!