2014 began cool and windy, unseasonal, a nip in the air … fresh mornings, bright sunlit days and the occasional need for a light cover in the evenings. This ? In tropical Singapore ?
Yes, in tropical Singapore. And then, without warning, an autumn-like spell descended upon us, a browning of the green, leaves changing colour, dropping … carpets of red, bronze and brown with hints of gold. Verges, meadows, banks and fields withered. Trees lost their green, then lost their gold. Bare branches emerged, outlining the skies; waters in reservoirs and lakes receded, bush fires broke out.
Twenty seven days of dry, burning heat, parched earth : a drooping, fading, shriveling, evaporating, shrinking, dwindling, diminishing landscape replacing the normal verdant, prolific flourishing of tropical foliage.
A record dry spell, the the driest since 1869. The windiest in the last 30 years. With leaf litter equaling 350,000 filled rubbish bags.
And then, it rained.
Blessed, cooling, drenching, wet, wet rain. Rain, which, according to the National Environment Agency, was (and continues to be, at the time of writing) due to an extensive band of equatorial rain clouds, blown into Singapore from the southern part of the South China Sea by strong, deep, easterly winds.
It began on a Sunday, swelled and fell on Monday, continued into Tuesday. People laughed, delighted, walked in the rain, raised their faces to the sky, took photographs, danced. With sheer relief. Out of sheer happiness.
And the beauty of rain was freshly understood; an appreciation much like the one penned by Douglas Coupland in Life after God : The richness of the rain made me feel safe and protected; I have always considered the rain to be healing—a blanket—the comfort of a friend. Without at least some rain in any given day, or at least a cloud or two on the horizon, I feel overwhelmed by the information of sunlight and yearn for the vital, muffling gift of falling water.
It is a new appreciation. Of things we take for granted.
Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.
– Roger Miller
Photographs of the dry spell are from the Straits Times website, the others by Anita & Vikram Thomas.