Beyond the french windows, the garden seems alive; every leaf shimmering in the wind, and branches swaying in a tussling breeze as the evening decides whether or not to storm. A cacophony of summer birds blast their songs into the evening, flitting across the space between ground and sky, chirping, chirruping, whistling and warbling their evening missives to whomsoever has ears to listen. The patch of sky I can see is pale, eggshell blue, lit yellow with sunshine bouncing upwards from the tops of the enormous clouds which crowd the sky – a cumulonimbus convention over the South of England, occasionally threatening with a deep rumble of thunder, but silent now, for some time…watching over us. Waiting.
Yesterday there were storms of biblical proportions.
I drove into the heart of one as I brought the van back to work from my clinic, the first, ginormous, splattery raindrops on the windshield turning to a sprinkling, a thorough coating, a wall of water near-impossible to see through, even with the wipers on full blast, as the rain hurled itself venomously from the dark, ear-splitting skies.
There’s a tradition, with thunder and lightning, of counting seconds between the flash and the rumble, to see how far away the storm is (each second supposedly counting as one more mile away from where you are). At one point, driving upriver (up and downhill no longer existed on the roads, just flash-floods and watercourses) I counted as far as “One…” before the sky exploded above my head with a noise I think I felt, rather than heard.
Suffice it to say, cycling home, in spite of head-to-toe waterproofs, I got WET!
In the garden yesterday, everything was muted, drenched by rain, bowed groundwards under its strength, under the weight of carrying its droplets. Roses leaned gracefully towards the floor and petals littered the ground, torn from their flower-heads by the force of the storm. The skies seemed malevolent, embodying dark powers gone mad, threatening violence.
It was, after all, just a storm. And in spite of sweet concerns from friends on t’other side of the Pond, I was okay going out in it again (togged further with wellie-boots, having shoved my shoes full of newspaper to dry them) because it was, after all, an English storm. It would bluster and threaten and throw a little lightning here and there, not to mention unleashing waterfalls on our foolish (yet perennial) hopes for a warm, dry summer, but it wouldn’t turn nasty.
I’m spoiled by temperance of climate, both natural and political.
I live in a country where the weather is greyish or coldish or wettish, and the best you can hope for is warmish and dryish for a few days before the rain comes again. I live in a country where people are liberalish or conservativeish or socialistish, and the stiff upper lip precludes the need for expressing too much opinion or emotion. I live in a country where dry humour and sarcasm are the norm, and people might snark, but rarely, rarely kill each other because of their fervency that the other is Wrong And Should Be Terminated.
It’s an ‘ish’ kind of place. We don’t DO horror or heinous crime or outpourings of joy. Our Queen had a birthday last weekend, a big one, and we celebrated nationally with sedate street parties, rolling eyes at the rain (because of course) and working up the gumption to add our voices to a Very Proper ‘Huzzah’ on behalf of Her Maj. We live in the kind of world where people huff and puff about Brexit and Stronger In, but we don’t really believe that the referendum could be worth someone actually blowing your house down. We crowd around, scuffling nervously, surveying the propaganda on both sides, wondering what could happen next. A national convention of temperates, waiting.
But now, in the quiet, stumbling aftermath of unspeakably awful things in the news, here, there, and everywhere…and the knowledge of those unspeakably awful things which go unreported…we need to DO. For Real.
More on that soon, in 1000Speak (on Monday, by the way, for any who want to join us raising voices in compassion), but for now, I’m thankful for things I’ve done, or seen done, this week. For connections made. For voices raised together against hatred. For voices united in love. For viewpoints shared respectfully. For people standing in solidarity. For helpers. For common bonds, however awful, which inspire togetherness and determination that Love WILL win. For kindness. For action. For sharing ways of making the world a better place for all of us, because we’re all in this together, and we so, SO need one another.
For being Stronger Together.
For humanity, in all its flaws, because it so very often triumphs in glorious, WONDERFUL ways.
For us, still here, still gathered in our community of thankfulness, cheering each other onwards.
And for all that we DO, for all that we CAN do, and all that we WILL do.
Thank you, each of you who reads here, for your marvellousness, your triumphs, your overcomings, your spirit, your sharing.