“The lessons of Rainy Season”
By Joshua Anderson
I come from a small farming community in northern Missouri, and if there is one thing I thought I knew about farmers, it is was that they are all reluctant to change and generally loathe when someone tells them how to change. So when I moved into my village and decided to do just that, I came with low expectations and wanted to spend the first year just learning, not be preachy, but just work and see what comes of it.
Niger has a notoriously harsh climate, and except for a few short months of the year the heat and unforgiving nature of the Sahel, is washed away by intermittent powerful storms. The entire population depends on this season and welcomes the transition. Gleefully, as an outsider, I was not used to the climate and it was a welcome break from the over 120 degree heat.
Working in my field was like stepping back into the days when I was young kid with too much confidence and trying to impress my friends by brazenly sneaking onto the demonic roller coaster. All it proved was that despite being a little noxious and just a little worse for wear the ride wasn’t that bad, but the end was none the less greeted quite excitedly.
After the rains began I lived in my field everyday was spent fascinated watching my efforts guide a barren sandy landscape into a lush green field of imagination and sustenance for all to enjoy.
As the rains continued and my field developed, multiple villages started gossiping about my field and soon I had regulars coming to inspect and critique my work. Though there were some who only came to shoot down my ideas, most did come to learn, and they saw my vision and it sparked their imaginations. One of those in particular was my friend Hassan. He came to my field daily and we would spend countless time discussing each facet of my field. Eventually I decided to gauge his interest and go ahead and drop the question….
“Everyday you’re here asking question about how my field works, next year do you want to have a field like this?”…….”Yes I would, can we work together?” YES!!!! “Truly” MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!
The sensation of the first rain is like being removed from the dangers and stresses of the Sahelien climate, its being reminded by nature that despite its unforgiving reputation, it too has its moments of tenderness and understanding.
That day when Hassan affirmed my work and decided to implement this concept into his field it was like the first rain; all the soreness, the blisters, the heat, and uncertainties were replaced by that same sensation of the first rain. The first had come, the rest afterwards were nice, but never as memorable.
At the end of harvest season I had a meeting with some of my local farmers to talk about my work and when asked what they felt about my field, they replied unanimously that they too wanted to implement my field model. It was better than remembering the first rain, at this moment I stopped only remembering the first rain and appreciated the entire rainy season. It’s great to see your friends follow your example and decide to ride the roller coaster and learn themselves.
damn its still hot!!