Saturday, 24 November 2012
The storm starts with silence. A rolling bombardment of flashes, clashes of bruised orange and grubby white, hemmed in, below the clouds on the farthest horizon. The pounding of ironclads, the broadsides from the dreadnoughts of an historic navy. The dull, distant roar of inclement weather. Now the wind hits, caving and vexing the flimsy skin of the tent wall, an assault that first warns and then threatens, of the impending onslaught. An invisible hand that shakes and pulls, that wants to wake us up. A light shrapnel of spattering rain, is a prelude that soon transcends into a maelstrom of noise. The lightning losing contact with it’s thunder, as the blasts roll one on top of the other. The storm descends into a paroxysm of noise. Our immediate world shrunken in, tormented by the near constant strobing of light, the pummelling of the bombardment and the violence of weather. Even the frogs are silenced.
It’s at this moment, at the height of the attack, that we hear a new sound, and feel the spatter of rain drops. On peering through the bug-net door, we find a white dog shaking itself dry. He, they don’t do ’its’ here, looks pathetically at us, as if to say ’no way, José, am I going back out there’. I’m not sure how he managed such a feat without pulling a peg, but I suspect it’s not the first time he’s preformed this trick. At least there’s no barking. I hope there’s no fleas. When I check a short while later, he’s curled up tight, unlike the flooded-out ants who are evacuating to high ground. The massed swarms, that are crawling over and through our marooned panniers. At this rate we might have to apply for refugee status.
Our tent is starting to acquire the features of a water bed, as the groundsheet ripples with a rising tide of puddles. As the crackle of shorting out electricity fizzles across the sky, the vibration of the hammering blows rise up through the ground. It’s now that we get the mortar round, an explosion that shatters into my sense, an instant injection of adrenalin, a racing heart rate. The smell of wet camp-fire drifts into the tent. How close?…Too close.
We seem to be trapped between two competing storm cells The belligerents truculent invective and quarrelsome abuse reaches a peak and then, slowly they disengage. Two battered, punch-drunk combatants that are still reluctant to back down, still they fire off an occasional retaliatory salvo, a final spat. Now the rain settles down to a wet night, we breathe out, stepping down the picket from it’s puddle watch, as the tide turns and the ponding gets a chance to drain. Only the ants seem to be the new invaders, attacking through the zip’s defences. Besieged, we resort to defence, repelling this next invading army of fugitives.
A rhythmic beat of rain settles in, the frog chorus resumes and the dog sleeps in the night.