It’s happened! The sun is shining and (you can’t always take this for granted) it’s warm with it. Not hot yet, that would be too much to hope for, but the forecasters are quietly confident that we may yet ‘bask’. And basking would be nice after so much shivering and sheltering.
The village has burst into colourful life after months of hibernating under grey skies swollen with rain. Over the weekend my neighbours split into traditional roles, easily and naturally and without discussion. Mars dug out the lawnmower/strimmer/any other power tool that he could seize and make noise with, and roared about the garden cutting things down. Venus either made a trip to the farm shop if she could be bothered and bought steaks/burgers/BBQ chicken portions or disinterred frozen sausages from the very bottom of the freezer and in both cases gave them to Mars to burn on the barbecue.
Sun umbrellas were erected. People tried to remember how to mix a Pimms, and some of the loudest jollity came from the gardens where people had forgotten and got the proportions wrong. And Mr Addington appeared in a pair of empire-building shorts that were belted just beneath his armpits and reached nearly down to his ankles. For months now he has been telling anybody who would listen that a second ice age is on its way and we are doomed. Yesterday he was flagging down passers-by and telling them that global warming has now arrived and we are doomed.
Meanwhile every farmer in the vicinity has leaped aboard their biggest tractor and taken to the lanes and fields. Most cut their hay yesterday, though some waited another 24 hours for the unprecedented sun/ breeze combo to transform lakes back into meadows. I’m just back from walking the dogs, and the air is full of the unforgettable, primal, glorious smell of drying grass.
As for my animals, we have mixed reviews on the change in the weather. The hens are thrilled, and are lying about in attitudes with their wings fanned out, sunbathing. The sheep say it’s Too Hot and have withdrawn to the back of the field shelter. The horses, though swaddled in fly rugs and face masks, are the centre of a buzzing mass of flies and have joined the sheep in the field shelter. The dogs are two black lumps in the shadow of a crab apple tree, and Scarab the cat is sun-worshipping from the depths of a cat mint bed.
In fact it’s fab here right now. Looks good, smells great, and helps me remember all over again why, despite everything, North Wiltshire can be a sort of earthly paradise. Once the mud has dried up.