Monday, April 7, 2008


It's still raining, and I'm about ready to yell "uncle!" It's the kind of weather you just know would warm up if only the sun could break through the clouds. Alas, a glance at accuweather doesn't give much hope for the rest of the week. I hope it dries up long enough for me to at least mow the lawn before I'm out of here for nearly a week starting Wednesday.

This weather made me think about a time when I actually enjoyed rain. That was in Ghana, during the rainy seasons. In West Africa, the rainy season is the time you can count on a major downpour at least once a day, usually in the late afternoon. There are actually two rainy seasons in the part of Ghana I lived in: April through June, and September through November.

Sometimes storms came earlier than late afternoon. If you were a teacher and they came while you were still in school, your job came to a temporary halt. The picture above is part of the classroom block of the school where I taught, Kumasi High School. (It's since moved.) You can't really tell from the picture, but those roofs are corrugated metal, the roofing material used almost universally in the country, at least at that time, and they were not insulated. When rain came, there was such an enormous racket that teachers literally could not make themselves heard over it. All you could do was go to the door or a window and marvel at the rain. Even the students, who had known this phenomenon all their lives, were in awe of this huge power. It was a wonderful shared experience.

Usually, though, the rains came while I was at home. My house had that same kind of metal roof, and it also had a veranda. I would always take a chair out to the veranda and just sit and enjoy the rain. It was soothing, the ultimate white noise, and the cooling breeze was delicious.

Now that was rain. It came, it did its awesome thing, and then it left. I wish this dreary weather we're having here now would take a hint and do the same thing.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ralph,

A grey/gray day here in SE PA. Seems we have had a snowless winter and traded off a rainy one.

When I lived on LI and home on a rainy day I loved being in the loft bedroom to read and listen to the rain on the roof.

Rainy days are days for me to catch up on chores I like to put off. Right now I have two boxes of clothes to sort through - maybe later.


Jenny said...

Hi Ralph,

I enjoy the posts from you and Kat about Ghana. Although I have never been to Africa, my parents lived in Ivory Coast for about 6 years in the 70's and I have an interest as a result.

Did you happen to see Tony Bourdain's show on the Travel Channel last night (No Reservations) which featured Ghana? It was wonderful! It may repeat, so I'd watch for it.


Ralph said...

Linda, I like that attitude. "MaƱana is good enough for me!"

Jenny, I didn't know it was on last night, but somebody did alert me to it the last time it was broadcast, and I actually recorded it, and copied it and sent it to Ghana friends, including Kat. It was wonderful to see Ghana again, especially to know that Ghanaians are still their wonderful selves.

Ivory Coast could be that way, is a tragedy what has happened there. I was quite involved witht the withdrawal of the Peace Corps from the country when it blew apart--didn't go there, but monitored events. So sad.

Kat said...

We had such rainstorms when the season finally started that I watched a lightning bolt hit the ground in front of my house. It was awesome.

In the Upper Region, we didn't have rain until late April through September. The ground was a giant dust bowl so the early season rain would flood and make rivulets all over the compound. Within a couple of minutes after the rain had stopped, the ground was as dry as if it hadn't rained. It would take a bit before the sandy soil became dirt again.

I so remember those rainy days in the classroom block when the board was the only way of communicating.

I loved the rain in Ghana too, and I loved the sounds on my roof.

Ralph said...

Yeah, I figured the rain experience was different for you up there. "Dry" was never a problem for us in Kumasi, even when it wasn't raining!