Can a colour be more luminous here? What makes green so bright that everything else appears dull and faded by comparison? The trees come alive and they beg of all smaller things to echo their call to renewed existence. The soil is trampled by the tiny hooves of newborns and the sound of single cicada is deafening. We sit on the deck with glasses of wine, mesmerized by the storm gathering on the horizon. Thunder and lightning stir us out of our waking slumber. The morning after the storm we touch down on hardened earth and feel the tickle of fresh shoots at our ankles. The world seems cleaner, and there is a comfort in knowing the clouds will continue to unleash rain upon us so we may be greeted by a different sunrise than the last. The dust of long days and heavy limbs will wash away. We know why others have danced in the rain before us, and the joy is palpable. The rainy season is breathtaking and these words will not do its overwhelming beauty justice.
I am astounded by the extent to which the environment has altered in the last few weeks. Only a few storms have graced us with their presence, and yet I am living in an Eden of thick greenery. All the concession’s inhabitants drink of the rain’s bounty. Masses of insects have descended. At dinnertime, we rush to move lanterns from the table before the termites swarm the light. After the first heavy rains, the flying termites leave their nests to mate. Within the space of an hour, the boardwalks will become a somber graveyard of wings, which are dropped as soon as the termites land on a surface that is suitably damp for the formation of a new nest. Of the thousands of termites who litter the ground, only a few will survive to create new colonies. We are content to eat in near total darkness, observing the madness of this yearly breeding ritual.
Rains paint the sky black all around us. The storms move quickly, making it difficult to predict the exact time that they will fall overhead. When the first storm hit a few evenings ago, I had to laugh at the futility of our response. Most of the rooms were soaked in minutes. Glasses smashed and chess pieces scattered the lounge before we could pull the flaps down and turn all the couches inwards. I stuffed dry towels into a garbage bag and delivered them to a few damp guests. One woman offered me space under her umbrella, but I was already drenched. Happy to walk through the rain, I was half-tempted to stick out my tongue to catch fresh drops of water.
This season has me filling the shoes of someone much younger, and I am not just thinking of the rainbow heart covered gumboots that I recently pulled out of cobwebs. Baby impala run and play, oblivious to the pack of wild dogs waiting patiently down the road. These young antelope are the favourite snack of all the area’s predators and nearly half of them will die before the season changes again. If they can relish the summer sun while danger licks its lips in anticipation of the next meal, who am I not to smile in the face of heady humidity and bugs that pounce on skittish guests? There is too much to be grateful for.
The year has come full circle. I arrived here last November at the start of the rainy season and remember vividly the first night I was lucky enough to witness a termite attack during dinner. Bugs were flying into open mouths and hair, and I can’t deny that a scream escaped my own lips when one flew down the back of my shirt. As expected, several guests dashed away in disgust. The rest of us bonded around a table strewn with squirming insects, fishing wings out of the lettuce and laughing at the almost Hitchcock-esque scene before us. Over twelve months have elapsed since that evening of initiation, and sometimes I feel as if I have barely had time to take stock of the items in my storeroom, let alone the year gone-by. I welcome then this sudden burst of growth that has given me pause to remember the seasons past and appreciate the cycle that sustains and transforms. Each time I wake up to find dew glistening on new shades of green, I quietly give thanks for a year spent in paradise.