for the rains
Remembering the rainy sea-sons
of my boyhood.
Rain meant the end of the cricket season but also brought
the start of the foot-ball season.
Much expectation for the rains this year.
excitedly pushed the window of my study open last Wednesday
morning when I heard the faint splatter of rain drops, saw
the glistening roadway, made so by the rain.
In that kind of scary, surrealistic manner that twilight
impacts on our senses, the same effect was had in the early
The straw-coloured branches of the palm trees, fallen in
the yard, contrasted sharply with the palm branches which
somehow managed to retain some greenery through the long
hot period. The brown of the branches looked so different,
so out of place as the rain trickled down from on high.
Then the smell, you know the smell of rain, as it rushed
through to my senses. Rain, I quietly screamed, notwithstanding
my love for the dry season, is all about life, all about
growth; it is renewal for the earth, parched brown and hard
by the months of sun, unyielding to seeds in the ground,
unwilling, perhaps incapable is the more appropriate term,
of producing the food.
Then I felt this cool breeze coming down from the hills
as if released by the moisture set loose by the rain. Isnt
rain wonderful? I remember the rainy seasons of my boyhood.
The canals were flush with water, which meant jockey races
with those slicked-with-candle-grease pieces of pallet sticks
named after great horses such as Muskeetoonwhich we
of the 1960s never saw but just heard ofand Mentone,
the great bay colt by Godivas Pink Flower, who ran
the competition into the ground. But I am getting carried
But how could I not? June and rain meant the Mid Summer
races in the Savannah. Yes the grand Savannah before it
was denuded by the Philistines of this day with no concern
for God and His creations. There I go again.
Nevertheless, June was the time when we trekked through
the water and mud in the Savannah to scream ourselves hoarse
for our favourites: Pepperpot, Water Lily, Solomon, New
Moon, JOuvert, a sprinter trained by the Irishman
Bobby Hardwidge to win the 1965 Derby over a mile with Nolan
Hajal high in the saddle. The expert morning clockers were
dumbfounded how this five-furlong sprinter could stay in
front, making every pole a winning one for a mile.
The rivalry was intense with the Bajan-bred horses, not
forgetting the Barnard Vincentians, the likes of Royal Colours
and Match Point, and those great Grenadians, Starlight and
South Star, and the occasional Jamaican, New Moon, already
called, with a groom from Jamaica named Stanley Skeete,
a colourful, hymn- singing man; the Jamaican duo adding
Jim Lowe to the saddle.
I have to stop myself again from getting absorbed in one
of the effects of rain.
Rain also meant, sadly, the end of the cricket season in
the Savannah, but the continuation on wet, skiddy pitchesliterally
any piece of concrete available, none more so than those
slabs of concrete down in the dry river by the Hilton roundabout.
Your bat speed had to be great to avoid the wet flannel
ball skidding through to hit your stumps. Of course you
had to also ignore the water from the ball in your face,
the imperative being to keep your wicket in tact otherwise
it could be a long wait before you get another knock.
However, rain also brought in the football season. Apart
from the great games and competition in front the Grand
Standthere go the Philistines again, paving over sacred
ground, now erecting stands on itwe had these great
tussles amongst ourselves, with slide tackles in the mud
being one of the high points of our lives. At least the
forwards like myself enjoyed selling the backs a dummy in
Unfortunately, up to the time of writing, early Monday morning,
the sprinkling of last Wednesday has proven to be a teaser.
Yes, I am still feeling the cool breezes and looking to
the, at times, overcast skies, hoping, but the rains have
not yet come.
This year there is much expectation for the rains to reseed
the culture of agriculture as the authorities have become,
belatedly and only out of embarrassment, supposedly interested
in planting the land again.
The ministerial seed trucks have moved around like circus
caravans at the same time that agricultural lands are being
cemented-over to facilitate the Governments more imminent
and popular home construction frenzy.
But I will remain unconvinced about the genuineness of the
push to rehabilitate agriculture until the Government finds
a means to quickly process the former Caroni lands and construct
the infrastructureirrigation, access roads, easy access
to seedlings, to marketing arrangements, technical assistance
to the farmers, serious police protection against those
who would steel the crops of farmers, and all the other
programmes of assistance needed by those who are committed
to planting the land.
The big farms, demonstration, training and mass production,
promised two years ago, almost, are the big-ticket items
meant to have propaganda effect.
Unfortunately, romanticising about rain can no longer remain
merely in the harmless idyllic. When a potentially disastrous
hurricane season is twinned with just as portentous a phenomenon
as climate change, we are shaken to reality.
With overheating of the atmosphere, referred to in the more
gentle fashion as warming of the planet, we
in the Caribbean, producing a mere one per cent of the greenhouse
gasses disturbing the fine equilibrium of the atmosphere,
are in serious harms way of rising sea levels.
The international climate change report does not use diplomatic
of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident
from observations of increases in global average air and
ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and
rising global average sea levels, states the report
of the International Panel on Climate Change.
Environmental and meteorological sciences explain the interaction
of these climatic phenomena involving increased releases
of greenhouses gasses, wind, oceanographic currents, rainfall
and the like and how they will impact on the planet.
level rise is expected to exacerbate inundation, storm surge,
erosion and other coastal hazards, thus threatening vital
infrastructure settlements and facilities that support the
livelihood of island communities.
mid-century, climate is expected to reduce water resources
in many small islands, in the Caribbean and the Pacific
to the point where they become insufficient to meet demand
during low-rainfall periods.
I am sitting by my window and desperately hoping for the
rains to come and to come in great quantities. At the same
time there is fear and trepidation of what that will do
to the flatlands of the Caroni plains.