I was looking back through the journal I write, over the past week or so, and realised how steady, continuous and unrelenting the rain has been. At first I tried to ignore it and get on with the usual springtime activities in the garden and at the allotment, looking for gaps when I could work.
More and more it has forced me back in doors and I spend my time gazing out through a filter of raindrops slowly trickling down the surface of window panes, accompanied by the gentle rhythmic drumming of droplets on glass and the swish of crisp car tyres cutting the wet road. And all the while birds sit in the trees gently tweeting.
I find myself drifting into a state of quiet contemplation, a time of waiting and planning, making ready for when the clouds thin and the Sun comes back; like our forefathers who lived physical lives out of doors, who of necessity lived by the seasons and had to accommodate themselves to its vagaries. They understood the rain in a direct life-affecting sense and it enterred our language – a metaphor for hard times and blows, to describe the fall of tears on our cheeks or the flow of blood in battle. It is the old english regn and regndropa.
I am looking out on a garden which has become an opaque, limpid world of pools and puddles, and shiny surfaces, reflecting a physical world distorted by the endless ripples of raindrops; a green world of lush new growth previously held back by the drought of the preceding months.
At times the rain has drizzled and sprinkled, interspersed with brilliant sunshine and glorious rainbows; a repeating cycle of rain and sun, rain and sun. It has also teemed down, it has poured and pelted. It has burst forth from dark cumulus; it has squalled along a front driven by westerly winds. We have been deluged by it; it has been torrential and tempestuous, dirty and foul. We are in the times of the Flood.
But it has also been delightful and bountious – growth inducing. The very earth has changed its nature, no longer dry, hard-caked and sandy in colour, but dark and where previously dug, loose and friable, easy to fork. Worms rise up to the surface of the lawn for greedy blackbirds to peck; sparrows and tits bathe in the shallow puddles. And all the while, hidden beneath the surface, seeds have been triggered by the seeping moisture.
The earth is taking its fill, once parched now sated, and the rivers, streams and ditches which drain this low-lying valley of the Rhee are filling. Surface water stands in the roads winding through the villages – as old trouble spots re-emerge. The main river itself, the Rhee which flows down towards Cambridge, will soon flood its banks if this keeps up and the old medieval landscape will re-emerge; of flooded meadows and road crossings. And meanwhile I am sitting at my desk looking out and wondering whether I shall ever get out today….