The temperature soars to 41°C. A slight breeze fans the oven-like air around, rustling through the leaves and even transporting a few in a soporific dance towards the heated ground, where they settle limply. Not a bird stirs or even makes a sound. Only a few butterflies flap lazily from one dried out flower to the next. The heat has sapped even the slightest comfort from the shady spots in the garden. The bricks bake. Light clouds form teasing clumps in the enamelled blue sky, only to disperse and regroup in thinner, more distant layers than before.
A Laughing Dove settles on the edge of a bird bath set in the shade of some trees. It bends to drink then looks around; bends and drinks then flies up to settle among the top branches. The heat is like an invisible wall for the air feels thick with it. Clouds cluster a little more closely, the taller sections catch the late afternoon light, while the ragged bottoms laughingly suggest a heaviness of moisture within.
A Laughing Dove burbles softly, experimentally, from within the foliage of the White Stinkwood, then halts abruptly. There has been no reply. It tries again; still no response. The heat prickles as a female Southern Masked Weaver perches on the rim of the feeder to peck at the seeds spilling out. Mercy: clouds dense enough to filter the sun’s rays have an immediate cooling effect.
A Laughing Dove, is it the same determined one, burbles intermittently, while another flies across the garden to the bird bath. The cloud moves aside and the sun blazes again. A hot wind begins to whoosh around the garden, the sky darkens, and the tree tops sway in a mad dance as the sun disappears towards the horizon. The fading light sets off an eerie reflected glow as the earth turns towards night here.
We sit in the darkness of Eskom load shedding and listen to the unfamiliar sound of thunder rumbling across the dark night, and blink at the unfamiliar flashes of sheet lightning. The air smells damp and sweet as we are entertained to the thrilling sound of raindrops splashing on the hot bricks, touching window panes in a light staccato, and make bubbles on the surface of the pool.
The clouds came, this time they stayed – and have given us 20mm rain!