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Bonzer Words!: Summer Storm

A sudden storm silences the beer drinkers in Jack Day's outback tale.

For more good reading visit the Australian-based Web magazine www.bonzer.org.au

Rain's not a thing we see often out here. Not much call for it, really, with the artesian bores. It rained the other week, though. Never forget that.

The air inside the pub was so hot and heavy you could almost hear it buzzing. Hiding behind closed curtains, we could hear the grumbling thunder in the distance, but nobody noticed the build-up of clouds until the first clap of thunder woke those trying to doze, and announced the rain, which came right away. Always does, so I'm told, straight after the first thunderclap. Funny about that.

The first drops were as big as grapes, banging on the tin roof like stones, and raising little puffs of dust as they hit the ground, leaving a dark spot where they fell. Soon, the pounding on the tin roof became louder, and increased to a deafening roar. The ground looked quite weird, with water beginning to run off the higher places into fussy little channels, pushing tiny dust storms before them. It looked like the dry dirt was rejecting the rain, and shrinking away from its unfamiliarity.

No-one spoke. They wouldn't have been heard, anyway in the racket. The smiles on everyone's faces, though, said enough. Utter amazement. Fascination. Awe, even, at this deluge. Enjoying the sound of rain on a tin roof.

Then the hail, covering everything with little white marbles of ice, bouncing everywhere like they were made of rubber. The gutters overflowed, blocked by ice, and we all looked with concern at the unavoidable loss of the precious water. A couple of the kids dashed out into it, but very quickly came back when they realized how hard falling hail was. "The tomatoes are going to be ruined," I thought, but without rancour, more pleased with the downpour than concerned over a few tired veggies in the yard out the back.

It went on for about ten minutes, looking like a miniature flood. Water going everywhere, but still some dry spots under the old trees puffing dust.

And then as quickly as it started, it was gone. We watched it stomp clumsily over the range, loudly grumbling thunder receding over the ridge, and pouring blessed rain onto the other side of the hills, all of us mesmerized by the dark grey look of it.

It was only then that I realized that nobody had spoken a word throughout the whole dramatic episode, until old Mulga Jack sipped quietly at his beer and said, almost under his breath, "Could'a done with a bit more a' that."

We all silently agreed.


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