Delighted to welcome back Robbie Cheadle with a post from her 2016 archive following 18 months of drought.
An African thunderstorm – a poem about two extremes; drought and floods by Robbie Cheadle
Southern Africa has been in the grip of a drought for the past fifteen to eighteen months. The realisation of the severity of the drought and the resultant disruption to farming have become very apparent to the nation, in the form of steadily increasing food prices, since the beginning of 2016. The other, more horrendous, effects of the drought have been less well publicised but come to the fore every now and then. Pictures of livestock dying of starvation due to the lack of any form of greenery, dry and muddy dams and pictures of wild animals in the game reserves, lying defeated and immobile, too lacklustre to make the necessary move to a different part of the park that has had some rain and has some vegetation.
Of course, all things come to an end. We are very hopeful that the last few weeks of heavier rainfall are a signal that the drought is coming to an end. In Africa, however, there is no subtlety. The rains have come in great, heavy torrents of water and, in some case, hail, accompanied by deafening thunder and loud and bright bolts of lightening. These violent evening thunderstorms inspired me to write the following poem. I was also influenced by the wonderful sight of the arum lilies in my garden, carefully tendered by my mother, which look so clean and bright after an evening downpour. Arum lilies are the flowers most commonly used at funerals and I attempted to weave this irony into the poem as well. I also created a lovely arum lily out of fondant to compliment the imagery of my poem.
An African thunderstorm
One God glares at another, with a dreadful frown;
They charge, ripping the clouds, the rain falls down;
Their barbaric battle cries, rent the thick, heavy night air;
Lightning bolts, brilliant streaks, through the night skies tear;
An African thunderstorm is a violent and ferocious fight;
The water floods, as if the drought’s effects, in one great effort, to right;
Howling winds shake the trees, quickly devoiding them of leaves;
Hail hammers down, stripping petals from flowers like thoughtless thieves.
The next morning, the clouds hang low, promising more rain;
Such a relief from the heat and dust that could drive you insane;
The earth smells damp and musky, with water swollen and fat;
Despite the hails devastation, for the rain we roll out the welcome mat;
One solitary white arum lily peeps out from beneath an eave;
A single drop, like a tear of gratitude, for the water we did receive,
rests right at its tip, a poignant reminder of what drought leaves in its wake;
Shrivelled vegetation, dead livestock and communities that the land forsake.
©Robbie Cheadle 2016
A thank you to Robbie for sharing this poem illustrating the extremes that nature will go to during the seasons.
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.
Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.
Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books
Books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle
One of the recent reviews for Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook on Goodreads
Paul Andruss‘s review Five Stars Oct 30, 2017
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River by Robbie and Michael Cheadle is a story and cookbook in one. It is the latest in a great fun series from a mother and her young son, the Author/Baker team of Robbie and Michael Cheadle. Their series of gloriously illustrated books for younger children are quite simply unique.
The books tell of the adventures of Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet and their friends. The inhabitants of Chocolateville; where everything and everyone is edible.
The concept was the brain child of Robbie’s son Michael. When he was a few years younger than he is now, and learning to read, he cleverly realised he could draw his mother away from dull lessons by weaving tales about made-up characters in a land of chocolate.
Equally clever (like mother like son, no doubt) Robbie turned it to his educational advantage by encouraging him write down his stories. So was born a family–friendly, cross-generational series that combined their love of spending precious family-time together indulging in favourite pastimes such as writing poetry, cooking, and it must be said, eating chocolate.
The series of books consist of cute and clever child-friendly poems, which adults can read to youngsters, and even encourage youngsters to read along. More family-fun time is guaranteed by the inclusion of uncomplicated recipes. Describing the scrumptious delights as simple; simply does not do them justice. Each recipe is designed to allow the youngsters to fully participate, thus passing on valuable life skills, and creating memories that will last both generations a lifetime, while also making fun things to eat.
The book and its predecessors are all illustrated with delightful figures made from fondant icing and sweets. Edible works of art that are easy enough for readers to copy: perhaps even making their own versions of Chocolateville for birthday parties and other celebrations.
Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet’s latest adventure has an ecological message. It explores what happens when the river of condensed milk running through Chololateville dries up causing all the fish to die. This is a subtle way of introducing very young children to the world issues that will no doubt be plaguing generations for some time to come. Plus the guaranteed happy ending helps youngsters feel they can really make a difference to the world.
Any one of Robbie and Michael’s clever and unique books would make great presents with Christmas coming up. Not just for Kids but for Parents and Grandparents too! They are charming and packed with fun recipes and stories to turn every kitchen day into an adventure that brings young and old together to create enduring memories.
Perhaps it’s time to collect the set!
AND YOU GET TO EAT THE CAST. AN OGRE’S DREAM!
And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ
Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle
Connect to Robbie and Michael
Thank you for dropping in today and it would be lovely to have your feedback thanks Sally