I was born near the sea and always perk up when the weather’s a bit wild. So I dressed up in waterproofs and a flat cap this morning, opened the door, and plunged into the wind and rain – only for it to stop within a couple of minutes and the sun come out.
And it pretty much stayed that way, with a glorious rain-washed sky and a range of life, light and colour on the trees and meadows that’s been missing since at least the start of August. The wind was behind the trees at the spinney, lots of lovely leafy sound and movement.
My waterproof trousers were swishing together in time, overtopping and sticking out from my wellingtons like a cossack dancer’s. Out of nowhere the Red Army choir marched into my head (or maybe trotted) singing Kalinka. Luckily they didn’t stay long and faded back to where they came from.
I saw a kingfisher below the lock again. A tiny shape in the apex of the trunk and lowest branch of a dead tree on the far bank. It was great to see it but I was glad it was in the shade. I hadn’t brought my camera because of the “rain”, and if it had been lit up by the sun like a multicoloured lorry driver’s Michelin Man I would have been very cross indeed.
Past the pond and the pavement is covered in conkers. I’m a bit confused because there are no cases and the tree is anyway on the far side of the road. But then a Range Rover glides by and there is a muted machine gun sound of tyres scrunching stuff fallen on the road and a couple of shiny new conker escapees whizz up onto the pavement like frogs pursued by a grass snake.
Into the woods on the far side and there’s wind and movement at every level, from treetops to forest floor. A total difference from the stasis of the last few weeks. The waterproofs go back on as protection against wet and pain – I’m going to brave the nettles and brambles of the overgrown path along the river!
There are lots of slippery roots underfoot and it requires a all my concentration but I manage it. At the last minute a large and unyielding bramble reaches out from behind me and grabs my hood. The price of getting free is a sore thumb and a few spots of blood but I would have settled for that at the start.
I just remember that I was going to pick blackberries in the rain. It sounded like the title of a wistful poem or song, and I’d wondered what it might feel like. But no rain, so I’ll have to explore that on another day.
Out into Snipe meadow and the sun sparkling off the bend in the river is a joy. Past the tennis courts and and a distant coach shouts to his student : “Open your shoulders out as wide as you can”! Sounds like good advice, in life as in tennis. And a lot easier to do if you’re not wet and cold, which is what I’d been expecting.