For two full days rain has hammered on the roof. The lane turned into a brown torrent, cascading into the village, carrying fallen leaves. This morning the fields are polished with flood water. The river is still rising. Roads and bridges are closed, farms cut off, animals stranded or drowned. I’ve never seen so much rain. It’s another escalation, the kind we’re getting used to, the high watermark getting higher.
It’s the morning after the clocks went back, the first day of the long dark, five months of night driving on mud-caked roads. I drink coffee, ignore the morning news, lace my boots and begin the thousand foot climb to find a flower. Already people are shaking off the storm, getting back to normal. After two days of de-growth the power’s back on, the shops are opening in an hour. I’m avoiding all of it.
Coils of rusted barbed wire, broken fences, abandoned machinery and old cars. The first frost of autumn in the shadows under the hedges. In the steeper fields there are runnels and areas of grass combed in the same direction by the floodwater rushing downhill overnight. I climb through a field of cows still feeding their young. Keep climbing, under the giant ash trees, over the streams that never see sunlight, up and up and up.
Take the detour few walkers find, across the wooden bridge, then the goat track through deep bracken to the clearing that hangs over the valley. And there they are, pushing through the grass, bent by the storm. Fragile and strong as ever. Each holds shining beads of rain, melting thistles of frost.