Unstable Weather

The gusts of wind make it difficult for me to lock the cat flap. My fingers feel clumsy as I lean over my cat, who insists on being loved and scratched, ignoring my struggles and insisting on an immediate dose of love. I can hear the splatter of raindrops against the window in the bedroom, and I rush in that direction. Wet patches already soak the edges of the loose carpets. I fling them out the way, while rushing towards the cupboard in the next room, where a spare set of towels sit unused. I grab them, and dash back to where rivulets of rain tumble down the wall, and pool on the slippery tiles. My hands work quickly to stem the flood.

Outside the streets are turning into raging rivers. Cars, unused to swimming through swirling eddies, struggle not to drown or float away. The drainage system, clogged with months and months of windswept sand, groan and sigh, and give up the fight.

The wadis mutate into roiling rivers the colour ofΒ melted chocolate, raging and roaring as they sweep away whatever strays in their way.

Trees bend and twist, and some simply fall over, tired of wrestling with the wailing wind. The parched landscape is unfamiliar with all this wetness.

The humans know exactly what to do. Young men jump into their 4x4s to play like children in the slippery streets and deep ochre dunes. Children rush towards every puddle they see. The quiet after the storm is pierced with joy. Rain in the desert is precious and scarce.

Later the schools will be closed for two days, as the unstable weather continues. Teachers and pupils will rejoice in this unexpected reprieve, while everyone else will do their best to resume their normal routine as best they can. And fail.

Throughout the night and the next day the earth will become gorged, as a low pressure system drags through the country. The day will be dark with scuttling clouds turning the sky into a monochromatic study of gray. Persistent soft rain, coming and going, interspersed with storms will wreak havoc. Debris will fly through streets in the arms of the howling wind, damaging cars. Windows will tumble onto slick streets and pavements. Airports will be closed and flights delayed and re-directed. Buildings will fail to keep the deluge out. People will grumble and flee. Everyone will stand in awe. Speechless to scenes never seen before.

The morning after the storms have left their fury behind in a trail of chaos and destruction, dawn will break crisp and clear. The air will smell like the beginning of time. The colours of the landscape, washed clean of desert dust, will shimmer like precious jewels.

But all of that will come later. As the first storm moves through, I wring out the towels, and stare at the lake of water in the backyard. I walk out to lift and move pot plants and chairs that have fallen over. My feet sink ankle deep into the frigid water slowly seeping away. And just like that I am a child again.

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