Our area has been in the grip of a heatwave and serious drought recently. Coupled with a gale-force wind, the fire hazard warnings are out daily. A few large blazes have wreaked havoc in Cape Town over the past week. Hundreds of shacks in an informal settlement were taken out, the occupants losing all they had. A veld fire raged through mountain regions, destroying a couple of houses and many acres of vegetation. All it takes is a broken bottle in a patch of dry grass, magifying the hot sunlight, or a cigarette butt flung from a car window.

It's been a long time since we saw rain - enough rain to replenish our rapidly-drying out dams or lift the strict water restrictions. The government has imposed hectic fines - even jailtime! - if water restrictions are ignored, or the limit exceeded. One car-wash company has already had it's licence revoked thanks to water over-use.

The bore-hole blokes are doing a raging business, and are booked up until the end of April in this area, mostly by city dwellers wanting to put in a well on their property. A recent news item showed them using dowsing rods to find the water - which I can do myself, so perhaps I need to offer my services? :) Many people are placing buckets under their showers, re-using bath water, only flushing the toilet when absolutely necessary (and putting a brick in the cistern to reduce the amount of water used), even saving the water from boiling veggies for re-use on the plants. The government has appealed to anyone who has water-saving ideas to come forward, and as soon as I can find their contact details I aim to.

Many farmers in this area are giving up their farms and going elsewhere. The wheat crop has basically failed, and we're facing increased costs in food soon as a result.

For weeks now we've been sweltering under heat and wind. Last night was the worst yet - too hot to sleep, even with all the windows open and the fan on full-blast.

And then, very early this morning, I smelt rain. As I mentioned a while back, I can smell rain coming up to 2 days before it actually arrives. I woke up to high cloud cover and the weatherman promising a spot of rain.

Lord, I hope it does! So many of us have been praying for rain, for a bit of relief. It's all good and well to have aircon at work (we'd wilt without it), but rain would be awesome!

And yet upcountry there are floods and people being swept away in swollen rivers.

A few nights ago I was lying in bed, when a brilliant thought hit me - they usually do just as I'm falling asleep. What if we had a network of pipes across the country, and the areas that received massive rainfall could collect that in roof-run-off tanks, underground dams and disused strip-mines - and then pump that water to the dams that need it! Of course it would cost millions to get such a system in place, and knowing our lovely corrupt government officials most of the cash might end up in their pockets, but it's a thought.

Failing that, we pray for rain and watch eagerly any cloud that grows large enough to dump its contents on the land. Yet again, we're at the mercy of mother nature and her Controller.

- image from news item here

::update::It's raining, ever so gently, with a background rumble of thunder. Wonderful stuff!