The dry season between the end of Lent and the beginning of the hurricane season is called kawenm in island patois. Here in the rainforest, where we sometimes have in excess of 250 inches of annual rainfall, it’s always been something to look forward to—a time to accomplish tasks that are impossible at other times of the year. Roofs get repaired, and outdoor gates get painted. Garden crops like okras, eggplant, sweet peppers, and tomatoes, plants that hate wet feet, thrive in the dry weather. Following clear, star lit nights, pumpkins are drenched with early morning dew and grow to enormous size. Papayas and cacao pods turn luscious shades of orange and vermilion. Mangoes set and coffee blossoms. Dogs and chickens bask in the sun.
But this year looks different. Drought has already begun to affect us. I never thought I’d have to worry about climate change in Dominica, but thanks to irresponsible deforestation and environmentally insensitive building practices, the heat is on. Bush fires are rampant on the west coast. The usually verdant cricket grounds at the Botanic Gardens are brown and shriveled. The hydraulic ram pump responsible for pumping water to the cistern here at River Ridge stopped working last week due to low pressure. The fresh water swimming pool is no longer overflowing. Soon we’ll be carrying water from the river in buckets for the animals, to flush the toilets, and wet the house plants.
Global warming, a catch-all phrase for the environmental ills of the twenty-first century, has suddenly become a news worthy topic on the local radio. People of all denominations are calling in and leading listeners in prayers for salvation. Élas. Don’t tell me First World maladies have finally filtered down to the vibrant Caribbean!
But hark. What’s that pitter-patter I hear on the roof? (It’s the wrong time of year for reindeer.) Could it be rain? Yes, its rain! Hallelujah! Let me hurry and close this blog to run and put a few buckets under the downspouts!