The Coming of The Dry

Just two weeks ago, following an especially heavy rain, parents were out on the plains searching for their young children charged with caring for the flocks of sheep and goats. These key pictureMaasai mothers and fathers were seriously afraid that their children had not survived the solid sheets of water that fell that morning.  Coming off the nearby mountains, torrents of water roar along normally dry riverbeds and frequently carry off small unwary animals and even children. These small forms are later found thrown up like rag dolls on the banks of temporary fast-moving watercourses.

Now all has begun to change with the coming of the dry. Like a can of rust colored paint thrown over a lush landscape painting, verdant green is quickly becoming dull brown. It is like the moisture is being sucked from the land by a giant vacuum cleaner. The herds of wildebeest and zebra that dotted the plains of Olbalbal just days ago have disappeared as if they never existed.

The signs of the changing season came suddenly, signed by strong winds and a carpet of purple and yellow wild flowers covering the plains. Then quickly, emerged the brown hues of the long dry season ahead.

image 2Now the land will crumble and the dust deepen. Often I will need four-wheel drive to reach the places that I visit. Water will become ever more scarce and the Maasai women will travel ever longer distances to find it. As the grass dries out and disappears, the Maasai encampments will begin to move in their yearly odyssey to find fodder for the herds.

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