It was morning. The sky was partly clouded, the temperature just bearable in short sleeves.
I sat at a wooden table next to the veranda railings and looked out at the scenery. As seemed to be
common in these parts, aside from keeping the grass short the grounds were largely untended. The only
other building visible from where I sat was a wooden hut some distance away. The landscape consisted
of patches of short grass, rust-red dirt paths, and the odd clump of what passed for trees here.
The wind quickened and the sky grew dark. In the space of minutes it was clear that it was going to
rain. The first raindrops sneaked in under the veranda roof and brushed my arm. I briefly debated taking
my drink inside but the air did not get any colder. Instead, I shifted my chair slightly back from the
railing and watched.
Within minutes the light shower had turned into a furious downpour.
There was not much wind, and what looked like a wall of water fell down vertically. The grass and dirt
turned rapidly into pools of reddish mud.
There was a sudden, sharp crack like thunder. It was quickly followed by another one, and then yet more,
resulting in a sound like a stream of firecrackers being set off. It came from a cluster of trees some
distance off. My surprise turned into fascination as I watched the trees firing off salvos of what seemed
to be sparks along the spines of their thick, waxy, fern-like fronds. They were discharging spores high
into the air. I could see the dark ejecta being shot forcefully into the sky, howitzer-like.
The discharges continued almost incessantly for ten minutes. At one point the racket the trees were producing
was deafening. They were pounding burst after burst along their spines upwards into the pouring
rain, filling the air above them with black powder, and littering the grounds around them with split open
grayish pods. One pod actually landed on my table and I looked at it briefly with mild curiousity before throwing
it back into the rain.
The din diminished at about the same time that the rainfall began to lessen noticeably. As is usual in
these climes, within minutes the skies were dry again and the clouds had passed, leaving flooded fields
behind churning with water, sooty gray pods, and reddish mud. The air smelled fresh and clean, but
I knew that within an hour the ubiquitous muddy odour would reassert itself.