In Transylvannia one has to take care when there is a full moon, but in Zimbabwe some very strange phenomena amongst our populace occurs at the onset of the rains !! Even a couple of mm has us grinning from ear to ear and any sound of thunder or flash of lightening has us scrabbling for our rain gauges.
Once the season starts in ernest one can have the dubious pleasure of seeing fully grown men racing their motoring pieces through the storm dips in the roads, giddily watching the water splash three meters high on either side of the car. The pleasure is questionable if you are standing nearby but these days rain is such a rare occurrence that it is a divine feeling (unless you are wearing your Sunday best ) .
Hopefully soon one will be able to see fully grown Mums and Dads with the kids in tow, as well as Grannies and Grandpas, splashing through the puddles on the rain soaked roads.The mums and grannies with their skirts tucked in their broekies, the dads and grandpas with the trousers rolled up as high as they can !! Yelling and shouting and splashing each other in some sort of frenzied rain dance !!
Zimbabwean roads are not well drained, no little cleverly constructed rainwater gullies where the water drains away in a boring sterile fashion to the nearest creek, instead we have rivulets gushing down the sides of the roads, filling the intersections with giant lakes and puddles where you can splash away contentedly for a couple of hours after the rain storm, until they gradually drain away.
Not so good for the cars' fan belts and brake pads I must admit, and with the increasing ageing of the Zimbabwean vehicle fleet, it is a common sight to see several cars stranded on the sides of these vast puddles, waiting for various parts of the car's anatomy to dry out.
But this is a contentment, not bothersome. Which true Zimbabwean could possibly get bothered by the glorious rain Instead we all just stand in the rain and chat excitedly while waiting for the car's under- carriage to dry out !!
When the rains officially start, we can put away our home made rain sticks, cease our impromptu rain dance parties, and get ready for the flying ant invasions ... such fun watching the little flying ants (termites) pouring out of their secret places in the earth, millions, zillions, gad-zillions, to live for just a few hours until their earthly task is done.
Lovely to see them with their wispy wings gleaming in the rain, but they are not such nice little creatures when they start to make a massive colony right under your house.!!
With the emerging of the termites another strange side of Zimbabwean human phenomena also emerges. It is not only the frogs, the bats and the birds that get excited at the thought of a gargantuan feast, but the local folk love a toasted termite terrine !!
Gathered under each and every lamp post, attracted by the light... is an eclectic little group of animal, vegetable and mineral matter !! (It is not easy to find a lamp post with a light in it in Bulawayo these days I must admit but they do occur now and again !!)
Every lighted lamppost directly after the rain is a huddle of excitement. People appear as if by magic with their containers to collect a sumptuous feast. Cyclists leap off their cycles on their way home, and scrabble about, yelling and gesticulating in their excitement, filling every crease and crevasse with the tiny termites.
Bats swirl around in the darkness overhead, gorging on the little creatures, frogs hop madly around on the periphery, long tongues flashing in and out like a symphony impaling a tasty delicacy in perpetual papillae motion.
Those termites lucky enough to escape this feeding Armageddon, wander off in some sort of pheromonal trance, in tandem, nose to tail, with his chosen mate, for a few hours of promiscuity from which a zillion more flying ants will no doubt result next rainy season !!
From whence the little greenish reddish frogs come, is another of nature's delightful little mysteries. Not quite as many as the flying ants, but certainly hundreds and thousands of them also emerge from who knows where at the advent of the rains.
Hopping happily about amidst the mounds of wings that the termites have shed almost instantaneously once they find a likely mate until the next day, when all that remains as to a testament of their being, the road is littered with squashed amphibian carcasses which will delight the crows and the birds of prey for some time to come. The roads are also festooned with the curious chongololos, hundreds of them, thousands of them, millipedions of them, and for some primordial reason, nine out of ten of them are travelling from north to south !! Tick tock beetles too abound with their curious ungainly gait, travelling to who knows where from who knows where to the delight of the birds who know they are in for a fabulous festive season feast....
Ah the glories of the common food chain !!
How would our spirits survive without the coming of the rains A precious testament to nature's amazing healing powers.... a symbol of hope to a nation which so desperately needs every comfort it can get.