THE EMERALD SANDS
Namibia after the Rains
“There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount. A perfect ratio of water to rock and water to sand, insuring a wide, free, open and generous spacing among plants and animals, homes, towns and cities. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.” –Edward Abbey
Millions upon millions of grass seeds lie buried in the burning sands. Year after year they patiently wait. The cycle of life is longer in the desert, so slow that it passes imperceptibly. That is until the skies grow dark with storm clouds and the smell of rain fills the air.
It is then that the whole landscape seems to shiver in suspense.
When those first drops fall, life seems so ravenous to experience itself that the sands erupt in a flush of green. The barren plains are transformed into prairies of shimmering grass. Stipagrostis it is called, and a more beautiful grass one could not imagine. Tall and slender, with flowing blonde tresses, they bend and sway like dancers in the wind, turning the usually ponderous landscape into an ocean of movement.
Sparrow-larks, Namaqua Doves and Lapwings explode out of the grasslands in bursts and flurries, playing in the breeze just above the rippling surface. The normally solitary oryx come together in huge herds on the emerald plains, revelling in this time of plenty,
the wizened Camel thorns burst into leaf and water starts to flow through the torturous bends of the Kuiseb canyon.
All who know this place realize this is but a brief and ephemeral occasion, an enchantment that will soon vanish in a miasma of dust and mirage.