One of the local villages had an Open Garden Day yesterday. The format is now familiar: the house owners garden frantically in the preceding weeks through the driving rain and extreme winds – despite everything they weed, mow and edge. As the Day itself approaches the weather forecast gets worse: expect tidal waves, water spouts, hurricanes, says the BBC calmly. When the Day dawns it is chilly, overcast but the wind isn’t bad at all really. Not really. Not compared to yesterday. Mid-morning the visitors start arriving, sensibly dressed for late June in waterproof coats, hats, umbrellas and wellies. They splosh loyally around waterlogged green dens of wetness, admiring the petals on the lawn that were a stand of rather lovely peonies yesterday and then go into the village marquee and eat tea and cakes. Until the marquee blows away, that is.
It’s important not to dwell on the weather too much (the wettest June in a century according to this morning’s papers). It’s because we get so much rain that we have such a wonderfully green island. And absolutely no scorpions etc because the poor things would instantly succumb to pneumonia the second they stepped off the boat they had stowed away on. And occasionally the sun comes out to show a countryside so intensely beautiful that it’s nearly all worth while.
But in the short term, it’s a right pain, and that’s putting it politely. Yesterday I sheltered under a wind-lashed tree and admired the remains of a beautiful herbaceous border, which obviously was the culmination of a lifetime’s dedicated work on the part of the lady I was standing next to. “Lovely plants,” I said, as was true. “Well yes,” she replied, “but I wish you could have seen the lupins before they blew down.” And that said it all, really.
Home to comfort and feed the livestock. The sheep have moved into the field shelter and say that until they’ve grown some wool back they are Not Coming Out. Please send hay. The horses say that they need waterproof rugs. Unless the sun comes out even for a second, in which case they would sweat and need their rugs off. Until it goes in again when they would like them on again (continues).
The geese continue to be smug. They like rain, and the new puddles they can spaddle in. And the happy fact that sometimes it’s raining so hard that I don’t get out of the car to shut the gate in time, and they waddle through in single file and go and chase cars on the road until I’ve fetched an umbrella and herded them back in again.
I don’t know what the hens think, because they never come out of their ark any more. They say it’s an Ark, and they are Noah, and until somebody sends a dove plus olive branch to prove there’s dry land somewhere out there, they are staying put.