Clouds of Hope
By Johanna Qualmann (13-18 years)
It hadnt rained for months. The air was dry and hot; the ground a parched, cracked layer of stone-hard dust. The sky was azure blue for miles into the horizon. Not a single cloud of hope in sight.
The cows, usually feasting on green grass and resting in the shade stood, starving and bewildered, on what was now barren dust. Half the herd had died in the last two months from hunger and thirst. The crops died, leaving only dead stubble, and the creeks and dams ran dry. The last, precious reserves of water were rationed between the few families that remained.
I sat on our verandah, in the old rocking chair, gazing out onto the now dead plains. I felt a great sadness welling up inside of me as I thought of the farm, passed down through generations of our family. Soon we might also have to leave, like so many families already had. I cried inside I was desperate for rain, desperate for life. The community was desperate. Australia was desperate.
I was dozing and despairing in the shade of the verandahs tin roof when I heard a distant noise. It was a low rumble, coming from the mountains to the east. I sat up in a flash, stared out at the mountains, now tipped with dark, life-giving clouds that crept closer with every second. I couldnt believe my eyes at first, but as I looked around the sky was already darkening. I ran out from under the shelter holding my breath, hardly containing my excitement. As the black sky split with a flash of lightning and the rain started pouring out I threw my arms up to catch the first heavy drops beginning to fall, feeling the cool wet wash away the dust and troubles. The ear-splitting sound of thunder reverberated. I let out a wild cry of triumph and thanks, screaming out of exhilaration. Doors were wrenched open and the rest of the family came rushing out, crying out in happiness. My sisters threw themselves into the torrents of water gushing down from the heavens, celebrating with me.
Life had come back to our farm. Life had come back to our community. Everywhere, the people stopped whatever they were doing and danced in the rain, an exhilarating dance of happiness and thanks. We were saved.
Four days later, the rain was still pouring out from the clouds. The rain, once life giving and beautiful, turned the plains to oceans. In silence we watched the fences being torn away, what was left of our herds drowning helplessly like ants in the powerful currents of overflowing creeks. Water started to seep in the doors of the houses and sheds.
I had wished so hard for the rain to save us. And now? Everything I had ever read and heard about climate change had washed over me in waves of ignorance. As the muddy waters swirled around my ankles I said a silent prayer for our future. Everyones future.