It was raining during the night and there’s a soft, gentle drizzle now. As I look out over the sodden paddocks to the mist-shrouded hills in the distance I listen to the frogs croak and the rainwater from the roof trickle into the already overflowing tanks. I’ve probably noted before that most of the sounds one hears here are not humanmade: birdsong, the rustle of the wind in the trees, roos bounding away, the raucous yell of cockatoos on the wing, the occasional dog yap and, best of all, rain on the roof.
The river broke its banks yesterday but had peaked by 5pm and then started to recede.That was such a relief. After the devastating floods of 2011 we are now always on alert when the river starts rising. We had a scare some months ago when the river breeched its banks and made its way onto the river flats. We watched and waited hour after hour with our hearts in our mouths as the river kept rising. We rang the local State Emergency Service and other knowing locals for predictions and although we were assured that the river was expected to peak before any damage was done, we still worried. The river peaked as predicted and gradually receded. At that time we looked to our lucky stars and gave thanks.
Rainfall at the source of the river that runs through our property usually determines the rise and the fall of the river on our property. The source is several hours south-east. That country is in a different rainfall area. It’s on the eastern fall of the Great Dividing Range we’re on the western fall and get more rain. It can be hot and dry here with no rainfall for several weeks but suddenly and surprisingly the river is lapping at our bridge, or even over it. When this happens it seems miraculous that we’ve once again been blessed with a strongly flowing river, but not being a subscriber to the concept of miracles or blessedness I put the wondrous happening down to the marvellous quirks of nature.
This life has brought into sharp contrast for me the feel and effects of nature here and in the city. One example is rain: here, if it doesn’t rain we are sooner or later going to run out of water. Before that happens we must think of a plan and execute it so that it doesn’t get to that. We must be able to drink, cook and wash. These necessities require water. During the country changing floods of 2011 we had no power for about a week. As far as our house water is concerned, a small electric pump pumps water through the house reticulation system into the kitchen and bathrooms. If we have no power, we can’t pump water and the house then has no reticulated water supply. During that flood-time of no power, the only other clean drinking water we had was in a 500 gallon tank attached to a small separate building. We used it for our house needs, carting buckets of water back to the house as required. We have since upgraded our water holding capacity so that we have more reserves, but it is still the case that, if we don’t have power, we can’t pump water.
While living in the city, I simply expected to turn on the tap and water would appear.If it didn’t appear I rang someone who had responsibility for fixing the problem. Sometimes I think nostalgically back to the days when it was someone else’s responsibility to provide me with the basic requirements of my life.
It’s still gently raining and although there’s a lurking worry about flood in the back of my mind, I can still enjoy the sound of the rain on our tin roof. The knowledge that dependence upon rain and the responsibility of harvesting and managing it for our own use is entirely up to us, seems to make the sound of it even more comforting.