Yesterday about six o’clock in the evening, it started raining. For a while, it was more of a mist than a rain. Only the outside lights reflected in the dampness on the steps and concrete gave you a clue that anything was happening. Later, you could hear the rain on the tin roof and then the rain started properly.
In the past, I used to love to sleep with the soothing sound of water falling in the background. Last night I kept waking and wondering at the unusual noises. By morning, the ground was sodden, the leaves drooping, everything washed clean. The rain gauge contained 50mm. It has been 466 days since we had this much rain at one time.
Many of the old Queenslander houses around here have corrugated tin roofs. It makes it impossible to be disconnected from the weather and the environment. In hot weather, the roof creaks and crackles. As the evening cools you hear the whole structure adjusting and settling. A bird on the roof is a collection of scratching, scuffling and rattles. Rain is a distinct steady tapping. Hail sounds like the end of the world.
When you do not have a reticulated water supply, a good roof and good gutters are vital. A good roof is clean – painted or brushed free of rust. Gutters are kept clear of leaves. You need to make sure that you have enough downpipes to cope with sudden flows of water. Filters on tanks need to be kept clear. When it does finally rain, you want to catch every drop of water. I knew that I had adjusted to living without town water, the first time I rushed out in a storm to clear a blocked filter. I could see precious water overflowing the filter and streaming down the outside of the tank. Dragging a ladder to the tank, I was up there in the wind and rain scooping leaves and dead frogs out of the filter. Trailing water and leaves inside, all I felt was satisfaction at the flow of water into the tank.
Tonight as darkness falls early and the rain continues, I can already see patches of light green on the paddocks. Tomorrow, whole hillsides will be plowed and seeded. This isn’t yet drought-breaking rain. 50mm is the bare minimum before you get any kind of runoff. If the rain keeps up, then empty dams might start filling. Running creeks and rivers are too much to hope for. But today, across this region, people are offering thanks to their gods.