There is a reason the British spend so much time obsessing about the weather. We have so much of it, after all, in rapid cycles. It rarely appears in the anticipated order.
The clocks changed on Sunday, to British Summer Time. April is around the corner. But the farm remains doggedly cloaked in winter shades of brown and fawn and dull grey-green. These islands and their inhabitants are growing impatient. We are holding our breath in nervous conviction that we will get a spring, and that it will be followed by a heady summer. Neither is guaranteed in the fickle British Isles, but our bodies yearn for warm and our eyes crave the dazzle of sunlit colours.
The Farmer and I took a trip to the Norfolk Coast this weekend past. Despite the threat of cold, high wind and rain. All was serene when we arrived at dusk, in time to catch a glimpse of the grey North Sea in tranquil mood, softly slapping the sand with that beautiful whooshing sound that I for one could listen to forever. The waves played their music as our view slowly faded. On Sunday morning we strode out and eagerly watched some crab boats being hauled on to land. The first drops of splintery rain caught us returning from our walk. From the windows of our cosy cottage we saw the spit become a soft downpour. The Church bells jangled joyously. The brave and the hardy passed our window with hoods knotted around their heads and bright umbrellas held aloft. The young and the old alike were noisily invigorated by the adventure of forging on through our changeable March weather. We watched a sturdy toddler in a pink anorak pause in fascination to observe the crystal water gushing from a cast iron drain pipe. She was right to pause. The spouting rainwater chortled out and splattered onto the kerb before streaming to join the small river on the road and rushing downhill to the land drains which pour back to the sea.
On our journey home, we ploughed through endless torrential rain that the windscreen wipers could not cope with. The wind slammed the sides of the car ferociously. We eyed high sided vehicles nervously. March is said to “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb” but it seems the reverse is true this year. A fallen tree blocked the opposite carriageway, and a couple of miles from home we passed a ‘For Sale’ sign at the exact moment when the wind lifted it out of the ground and sent it spiralling into a field.
Power was off at the farm, not an infrequent occurrence when the wind gets up. Our dustbins had gone to visit the neighbours (this is quite a lengthy journey where we live). But roughly an hour later I was out walking the dogs in weak but welcome sunshine.
I am reading “The Summer Book” by Tove Jansson at the moment. A beautiful, simple, evocative tale which is reminding me to notice the details. Just like that sturdy toddler in her pink anorak. We had no internet connection in Norfolk, and limited mobile signal. I lost track of what my book was doing. I didn’t tweet I couldn’t check in with Facebook. I failed to post my weekly blog. I have to admit I could get used to being out of touch. I can see the small, tightly clenched buds on the trees from my window. I heard the strident bark of a restless dog fox last night. I could smell that dog fox this morning. As I type rain is cracking on the corrugated roof of the lean-to, but I can feel the promise of spring in my bones. My waters tell me it is going to be an absolute beauty.