Friday, 22 June 2012

Just Waving - Not Really Drowning.





Raindrops keep falling on our heads in England, and here, in very Middle England, we sit boldly on our hilltops, eyeing the rising levels of surrounding rivers and watching the grey clouds scudding overhead.
We are not afraid of weather, and there are always lots of us who go to celebrate the invisible sunrise at the solstice. Come rain, hail or snow, you really have to admire the 'Druids'.
I am not made of such stern stuff.  I have never, even in my distant youth, danced in the dew of a summer solstice, but here is my own brave, slightly defiant smile in the face of adversity.


  • My hostas - just look at them above - have never looked better. It is too cold and wet for the slugs to come out.
  • We have lots to talk about. In England we always talk about the weather, and this year we can make plenty of jokes about that summer we had in May, and about hosepipe bans. We can be companionable and smile and raise our eyebrows at each other as we go scurrying down to the shops in the teeth of the gale. That is unless we are having to hang on to the umbrella with such grim determination that we can't see where we are going and we bump into one another. But that can be companionable, too.
  • We are saving a lot of money by not having to purchase sun-block.
  • We don't have to worry about what to wear. We wear something warm under something waterproof, with Wellington boots as standard footwear. There are some stylish and jolly amusing Wellies printed with ducks and frogs and daisies.
  • Lots of plants look beautiful, sprinkled with the diamonds of raindrops. This balances out those that have been beaten into submission by gales.
  • The ducks in the park are very happy.
  • No one has had to pack away their winter clothes nor change the duvet for the summer-weight one. Or if they have they've changed back again.
  • I felt a bit guilty, buying a new folding umbrella because I forgot the old one the other day. I spent four pounds, but it has earned its keep ten times over.
  • People have lots of extra interest, wondering if they are going to be able to play/watch cricket. Or not.
  • I had these very special sunglasses, made for wind-surfing. (How I got them is another story.) One of my sons said, "Wow, Mum, those are cool surfers!" and I just said, nonchalantly, "Yes, I know." They were on the passenger seat of the car, and a friend sat on them, but it really doesn't matter. To be honest, I could barely see through them in this gloom, and even I realise that they are not so cool in lashing rain.
  • We are not woken by blinding sunrise, forcing its way through the blinds at 4.30 a.m. In fact we can leave the blinds open and hardly know if it is night or day. It becomes not unlike the White Nights of St. Petersburg, and we can go into a gently meditative state and start looking for the Northern Lights.
  • Friends asked me to water their garden while they were away for a fortnight. Not once did I have to touch a tap, but I did go round every other day to tip water out of pots to try to stop plants from drowning.
  • This soft and gentle grey air (when the wind drops), this soft and gentle rain (when it comes vertically, not horizontally), this soft and gentle grey light - all are kinder to the eyes and the complexion than harsh sunlight, and really the gloomier and dimmer the light the kinder it becomes for women over a certain age.

But if, by any chance, the sun should break through the dark and billowing clouds we will all tear off our woollies, waterproofs and wellies and start complaining about the heat.
Visitors heading this way for Those Games, be aware!

13 comments:

Leslee said...

Oh yes, enjoy it while you can! We're in the 3rd day of a heat wave in Boston, with temperatures nearing 100F (37 C). I've barely left the house (air conditioned, thankfully), but on a late evening walk the other night the air was pungent with every steamed rose bush and trash can. Thunderstorms tonight will usher in more reasonable temperatures - we've actually had cooler than normal temperatures up until this.

Mouse said...

Indeed, the great British summer in all its glory. I am thankful for cool days as I sit here with a post-op fever, but I do so love the 4:30 sunrises even as I am unable to prance like a pony on the green.

PS I think your word-captcha thing thinks me a robot!

marigold jam said...

Lovely post - makes use of our typically British sense of humour too! I think I'd rather bee too cold/wet than be broiled and parched though and with our ever hopeful outlook we are all still looking forward to some better weather in due course - perhaps sometime in November?! Must say I have changed my duvet though and not needed to change it back though we did light the fire last night!!

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: I'm not really feeling very sympathetic as I sit here under a glowering sky, wearing two sweaters. Steamed rosebush and trash can does sound a heady mixture though!

Mouse: good post-op weather for relaxing and reading, and I hope you're doing well. No prancing for you just yet, but by the next solstice - who knows?

Marigold: that's true British stoicism - not changing the duvet back, but lighting the fire (and de-frosting the bed socks?).

Zhoen said...

Trade you.

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: no thanks because the sun came out for a few minutes this morning.

PB said...

much fellow feeling here

Fire Bird said...

sorry that was me having fellow feeling... though a little too near to the drowning end for comfort last night

Relatively Retiring said...

Firebird: I felt uncomfortable having posted that, and then hearing the news about devastation in the north of the country.

pohanginapete said...

How ironic that we're in exactly opposite seasons yet the clothing sounds (almost) identical: something warm under something waterproof, with gumboots (wellingtons) the preferred footwear. I live encased in a down jacket much of the year.

Zhoen, help yourself to as much of my rain and cold as you like.

Relatively Retiring said...

P.Pete: Ah, but today the sun is out and we're all Morris dancing in bikinis, bells and straw hats. Essential Britishness in preparation for the grockles.

pohanginapete said...

"Grockles" — I had to look that up. Thanks for my new word for the day :^)

Molly said...

Defrosting bedsocks? I can relate. I'm elated to be home but haven't yet figured out how to defrost my feet! Clambering over mountains and rocks,and hopping between tide pools while wrapped in scarves and woolly jumpers, beats sweltering in 90 degrees F any day of the week !I love your optimism in the face of such gloomy weather!