Rain, glorious rain!

We waited a long time this year, but here it is at last; soft, soaking, gentle rain. I had almost given up hope.

Did you know that the Oxford Dictionary’s word of this year, 2019 – the phrase most used in the media – is Climate Emergency?

When I looked out at the bare earth of my backyard, where even the weeds were dying, I found myself wondering if this was the wave of the future … a land turned to dust.

Reprieve! Now, of course, the dust has turned to mud, and our white tile floors are painted with muddy footprints, large and small. As soon as we finish wielding the mop, the Picassos arrive at a gallop from the garden and enthusiastically complete another artwork. Advice to anyone building Henley – choose earth-coloured tiles if you to share your home with dogs, cats or even pot-bellied pigs!

I expect a rabbit is also good at smearing, but I admire the bunnies from afar – and there are plenty to admire. Baby bunnies are popping up all over. The largest rabbit runs I’ve seen are around the Oval and along Wargrave North where you’ll see the colonies grazing beside the road – black, grey, white, spotted and brown-grey cappuchino. I slow down to pass them in the early evening because they’re not very street-wise. I suspect a few have crossed paths with speeding motorists, but that’s one thing about bunnies – you tend to get a new batch every six weeks!

Perhaps the bunnies attracted the feral dogs to our street. I haven’t forgiven them. I never will. My beloved little black cat was one of those who fell prey to them. I can bear it when a pet has to go through illness or old age – it’s part of the circle of life – but not when my joyous, beautiful, naughty, bouncing, talkative little boy was scarcely more than a kitten. We should have had years of fun together. We have the marauding dogs on camera and we think we know who owns them. It’s too late for me, to my eternal grief, but, please, I beg you, keep your dogs in!

Still it rains and we’re watching the weir – so far the river is keeping its bounds, but yesterday we visited a very soggy Joburg, so there could be more water on the way. There were crowds at Montecasino on a wet Sunday taking selfies beside the sparkling silver tree, with festoons of coloured lights setting the scene for Christmas cheer. We were there for Peter Pan on Ice, a magical experience of skilful, graceful skating, and took in the fluffy fun of the musical “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” for good measure.

Here in Henley we’re trying hard. Shiny silver and gold baubles adorn the street signs – so far – and soggy streamers of red ribbon are brightening the trees, courtesy of Henley at Heart.

Meanwhile I’m keeping a suspicious eye on those trees. The ground is soft and Henley trees seem to have a habit of toppling – I’ve been amazed at the tiny root systems of even the tallest of the fallen giants. Is it due to the dolomite close under the surface?

It seems to be an attribute of the electricity poles too, especially those with top-heavy transformers. Add load-shedding and we’re definitely in line for some Christmas cheer.

We don’t have snow to offer, just lots and lots of mud, but on Friday, December 13, the carollers will be touring the village visiting all the watering holes, so come and sing along.

We try. We all try. I give you a new word for the new year – let’s choose HOPE!