Editorial: Miracle that many wanted

By Mark Story

Two minor miracles materialised on Christmas Eve.

Firstly, the Black Caps won.

Less surprising, but certainly more welcome for us living in the Bay, the province woke to rain.

And not just any rain. Feathery, lovely, tepid, it fell lace-like on the lawn - a lawn I'd mown to clip the clover in a storm of dust a day before.

My kids, who since school broke have been playing outdoors before breakfast, stood gobsmacked at the door and didn't know what to do. This wet stuff was foreign.

But it was a festive gift for our men and women of the land. These hardy folks had been toiling in dry soil conditions usually expected only in February.

The watery reprieve came courtesy of Cyclone Evan, who passed like Santa over the top half of the North Island in the early hours and most of the afternoon. On that same day we ran a lead story about the desperation of rain-starved fruit growers, some of whom said they'd prefer to cop a fine and draw water than lose their crops.

I've since spent Christmas Day in Palmerston North celebrating the day with the in-laws. Hawke's Bay born and bred, I've often pined for a Northern Hemisphere white Christmas. Celebrating the 25th in "Palmy" is as close as I'll get.

In the inclement Manawatu, only a two-hour drive from our own province, the attitude to rain couldn't be more different. That is, it's not needed.

It's taken for granted.

Here, green (so to speak) with envy, our rivers are near record low, fruit growers are flirting with water restrictions and, selfishly, my tomatoes are wilting and I've already swapped fistfuls of folding stuff for sunscreen.

The good thing about the East Coast's tough conditions is it breeds tough growers.

Yet I feel for these people who sit through endless TV weather reports where forecasters predict another "beautifully sunny" day for Hawke's Bay. "Beautiful" is of course, a relative term.

Us Bay folk have all summer to spend in the sun. I'd prefer to forgo a few silly season barbecues if rain means our resilient agricultural folk can breathe a sigh of relief and, who knows, put their feet up and watch the Black Caps take out the series-deciding Twenty20 game tomorrow.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Maybe, given Mother Nature's penchant for inflicting both torture and irony on this province, we should expect a rain-affected match.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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