Cloud Shadows Over The Great Rift


I have just come home from the allotment with very wet knees ( the grass on the field path has suddenly shot up half a metre). It is a gloomy, drizzling evening here in Shropshire, and has been raining now for two days. This is very good of course. We’ve hardly had any rain since mid-May, and it’s a big relief not to have to water the vegetable plots. The veggies are very happy too – all upstanding  and glistening in the rain. The only thing is I think we have water-resistant soil. When I went to sow some Florence fennel, the surface compost was damp enough, but an inch down the soil was dry as desert sand.

More rain required then.

The advent of rain is of course a critical factor in the growing of smallholder crops over in Kenya where this photograph was taken during the July dry season. Very few rural farmers have ready access to piped water, reservoirs and water courses, and so irrigation systems are thus not feasible unless you are a very rich big landowner.   The monsoon seasons on the Indian Ocean are responsible for the country’s rainfall. It comes in two seasons: the short planting rains roughly October to December and the long rains in April-May. And so the clouds you see here, may be bringing shade, but they are not bringing rain.

And even in season, this is increasingly the case as Kenya’s forests dwindle. Without its tree-covered uplands, which invite the clouds to drop their moisture, the future will bring only increasing desertification. Or else when it does rain, there will be more flash flooding and landslides to carry off the fertile top soil.  Climate change, then, has both local and global origins, and we all need to think about this, and the part we may play,  wherever we live on the  planet.

copyright 2017 Tish Farrell


Thursday’s Special: over  Please visit Paula to see her totally stunning photo.

22 thoughts on “Cloud Shadows Over The Great Rift

  1. I love your older photographs. They have a painted quality that is simply beautiful.

    Pee Ess. I shall be starting ’round 2′ of the Lemon Experiment over the weekend. 🙂

    1. We could – if we wanted to. So much is do-able. It’s amazing what the Chinese and the World Bank did to revive the desertified Loess Plateau in China, and that was a big area to return to fruitful productivity.

  2. This is very weird, when I saw your photograph before reading the entire text, I thought the landscape looked like Kenya, not Shropshire. And quite possibly the Rift valley as seen from the Escarpment?
    (Canada will be the richest nation on Earth when water runs out. They have plenty)
    Have a lovely week-end Memsahib.

      1. 🙂 I thought as much. I am blessed or sometimes cursed with an almost eidetic memory. There are things I wish I could forget, but visuals stick to my mind. Napier grass? I will have to look it up. Kwaheri sassa.

  3. So glad to have dropped in and seen these stunning images. Wow. So beautiful and of course so daunting the issues. Here in Sri Lanka we recently had too much rain and flooding with tragic losses of lives and homes for so many. Climate change is the biggest challenge for our planet and we now have to adapt as best as possible to the new realities and the extreme weather conditions that are all over the globe presenting so many challenges for so much of the population.


    1. Thanks for all those very important observations, Peta. And not to be too daunted there is much that can be done to lessen the impact of extreme weather events – I mean, we have the technology (of a non-polluting kind that is). Greetings to you in Sri Lanka, and many condolences for those lost in the floods.

  4. not all can be blamed on climate change – there are natural cycles coupled with greed as well as ignorance but none of that matters much to any poor dirt farmer waiting for rain – your image portrays that so well but all the cloud brings is shade
    p.s. Spain is in severe drought this year and the wine and olive crops are under threat so your allotment is a piece of paradise! Maybe you can diversify?!

    1. Diversify – yes, it’s on my mind, though all I’ve come up with so far is growing more globe artichokes that are said to be drought resistant. Got to wait till next year for them to crop though. But you are so right. There are many aspects to climate change. One BIG factor in Africa is the cutting down of trees for cooking fuel. Mali is one of the saddest examples in that regard, but it’s happened all over the continent. Keeping people poor is a great way to cause environmental stress and impoverishment, which in turn brings desertification. V. sad.

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