Australia is a harsh land. 70% is classified as desert or semi-desert whatever that means. In the south where the rain falls the grass grows well but then dries out in the summer and feeds bush fires. It is a harsh land.
Drought is common, extensive and unforgiving. But drought always breaks – in the end.
I wrote the following many years ago and I just found it amongst some old papers. I was younger then.
The breaking of the drought.
In the morning we all awoke and looked,
As we had done
These last long years with little hope
And even littler faith
Into the west,
To see some sign of rain some cloud perhaps.
A stirring in the wind.
The cattle were all gone, the sheep dead long ago.
The dog drank from the water we’d brought
Those fifty miles from Jackson’s still wet bore,
Then slunk under the shed.
There was a moving in the sky
As if the usual sharpness –
Where the dead straight distant sky
Was wont to meet the ground –
Had been roughed up
And merged instead of met.
And Jimmy saw it first and yelled into the house
“Dad come and see it Dad!
Come Dad. Come on it’s come.
The rain. It’s come. A cloud out there
out by the ten mile well
come on Dad it’s come
It’s gunna bloody rain.”
And Mum not wanting to be overcome
And not to cry in front of all us kids
Just looked at Jim and told him not to swear.
And then we ran around and closed up all the doors
And shut the windows in the tractor shed
And sat and waited for the rain.
And we waited all the while
Just looking at the clouds build up
And waiting for the wind
to rise and bring the rain our way.
And then it rained.
A drop only. At first!
Jimmy did his raindance all again
And got ticked off for swearing once again.
And then it poured!
It rained for three long days
And when it stopped the flat was three feet deep
And on the rise the green began to show
And all the time Dad didn’t say a word –
Just stood there all the day
And looked off miles away.
And when I went to to tell him lunch was on
He laid his hand
and roughed it on my head and said,
Tell Mum I’m on my way.”