27 February 2005

Green Desert

Trips to Fossil Rock and Hatta Pools have become regular weekend features for us. But this week the desert was a quite different sight.

We have had a lot of rain this winter, much more than last year. Since Mark and Martina arrived it has rained three times, and when Naime and Thomas were here we faced the embarrassment of having to lend them jumpers since we had told them it was going to be warm and then turned out to be quite chilly.

As an introduction to the local countryside we took Mark and Martina to Fossil Rock, a short drive through the dunes from Al-Awir towards the mountains. But where normally there are just a few grey scrubs and some dead-looking branches sticking out of the ground this time the sand was covered in clumps of sharp green grasses, faint meadows of white and yellow flowers and bushes with red blooms. The camels were having a field day.


It was amazing to see how plants can grow in the fine sand as soon as there is some water. The leeside of dunes, where the shade keeps the rain water on the surface, were coloured a delicate pale green with soft growth. Digging just a few inches revealed the sand to be damp, soaked full with moisture.




Flowers in the Desert

Hatta, normally a forbidding reddish-grey mountain range, had taken on a faint blue-green shimmer in the crags and crevasses where the water collected. The normally rare pools on the wadi floor had spread, so that there were rivulets of water in most places, supporting frogs, dragon flies, spiders and fish in an inhospitable climate.




Desert Dwellers (frog and dragonfly © Mark Locker 2005)

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