We live in a weird part of a weird continent - Australia. For a decade it seems, we've been experiencing drought - only last year, at the height of an exceptionally hot summer, half the forests of the state exploded into flames. Almost 300 people died in the blazes that raged on for weeks - friends lost homes or found their lives threatened. After so long without average rainfall most of us began to believe that the climate change was to blame and that the 'changes' meant permanent dryness - desert-like conditions. It would never truly 'rain' again.
This winter, however, has been extraordinary - the skies have brought regular rains from the West and North-West; our dam, for so long all but empty, suddenly had to cope with a large inflow of water. On Sunday, after 80mm fell in 24 hours the dam finally filled completely for the first time since 1998.
Then we got news that some spots across the region were suffering floods. A drive into Bendigo, a nearby town of 100,000, confirmed the reports. Our son's soccer field was completely innundated by excess water from a nearby creak that had burst its banks. Fences had collapsed under the pressure of the surging waters and with horror we realised that friends living nearby might find their home threatened.
We arrived to see that the swollen creek had completely swamped their backyard and was only meters from the house itself - sandbags looked flimsy against the onslaught. 'It was worse last night -' we were told, 'it's actually dropped back a bit this morning ...'
At the centre of our personal weather psychology is our dam. The site of it full as the clouds cleared to the West and the sun set between the many gum trees embedded in its banks was truly Edenic ... despite the cold I had a strong urge to strip off and dive into the cool body of water. We toasted the end of the drought later that night with out neighbours who have a beautiful view across the dam and fell asleep feeling secure in our garden water supply for the first time in many years.
As the old goldminers of the 19th century knew only to well water security is always an illusion around here. As I drove to work on Monday morning I noticed that despite an absence of any overflow from the dam water was pooling directly behind the rear embankment. We had a leak ...