It is four am and sleep escapes me. The gale blowing outside sounds eerie, ominous even, whipping trees and leaves into a frenzied dance beneath the streetlamp. It’s no good, my mind is racing beyond another hour of slumber. Interesting how your life flashes before you when you really don’t want it to.
Also interesting how there is always someone walking past my apartment, despite the hour. Wonder what his story is? Some interesting tales moving along. Not a plane in the sky, lights glittering across the park and my first pot of tea for the day. Back to the comfort of an oversized duvet.
What is happening to the Natural world?
Only too aware of those pained by floods and drought during what is supposed to be this festive season. Northern England lies under water and water in the winter, in your home, is a dire experience. Dirty, murky, smelly water that stagnates and seeps into everything. No sun to dry your life. Many have been evacuated but no-one really thinks further about the ‘where will they sleep’, or ‘will they know where their animals are?’ Pictures freeze frame but the misery goes on. Months of mopping up, insurance claims, finding what is left of your history, your admin files, medicine, clothes and photographs. And Frank is looming overhead with more rain.
And here I have been praying for rain.
South Africa lies bleeding in the grip of the worst drought for more than 30 years. Almost unbelievable to witness farmland turned to desert in the Free State and other provinces, cattle starving along the highway and watering holes rapidly diminishing in Game reserves. Feed is being shipped in, Maize imported but one can hardly believe the hopelessness of waiting for rain that will not come. Everyday is a struggle for farmers, their staff and the story of the farm that will not yield. Broken promises and more debt. Proud men and women reduced to little more than waiting for salvation.
Black farmers in particular, are at greater risk – their lack of infrastructure, insurance and skills in coping with this natural disaster have left them exposed and unable to care for what is left of their meagre crops or rake thin cattle.
My father-in-law was a magnificent farmer in the Free State and I always remember this line from Psalms 121 in the Afrikaans Bible when I think of him;
‘Ek slaan my oë op na die berge: waar sal my hulp vandaan kom?’
Pa, ek doen dit nou ook, in die hoop dat die rȅen sal kom.
So here I am at four fifty five am in a safe bed, experiencing the mildest winter in my living memory in London, hoping for the rain to stop in Britain and the rain to fall in Southern Africa. Nature does not trifle with us, no matter how we wish to alter her.
I pray for the suffering to cease. For the heavens to open and cool the earth in Africa, and for the sun to break through and soak up the moisture in Britain. And I feel so small in doing it. Yet, this early in the morning, when the gale lulls for a moment, I hear the sweetest birdsong, high and clear, outside my window.
‘The earliest risers – generally robins, wrens and thrushes, including blackbirds – are London’s resident birds … – they are the ones you’ll hear first in the early morning.’ Timeout London.
Humbled I am, praying I am … wondering how I can make a difference? This early morning stuff is pretty awesome but a little weary of that two pm ‘fat-i-gay’ heading my way.
p/c of New York Times, africagreenmedia, The Telegraph and The Independent.