Like I’ve not seen
In many a year;
The riding-through-a-carwash kind
That makes paper bags of clothes
And sieves of shoes.
Blinding, drenching, driving warmth
From face and fingers
Streaming from chin and elbows
Arcing in graceful rooster tails
From sibilant wheels.
Rain that would keep
Anyone slightly sensible
Safe and snug indoors.
Bring it. For in that roaring, stinging madness
There is a will
To strive and conquer
A strength undaunted
An iron grip
A laugh that echoes from the woods
And a peace I all too rarely find
When I look for it inside.
More rain. Each drop that falls
Is a cold, hard reason
To play it safe today and stay inside.
An instinct to protect
A holy wisdom, faithfully applied.
But in every silver splash
I glimpse an eye that slyly winks
Inviting me to hang it all – and ride;
To tell the child within
Not to heed that warning voice,
And revel in the freedom to decide.
Strange as it may seem, I actually love riding in the rain. There’s something empowering and uplifting about being out in conditions that keep others indoors – and in knowingly, deliberately, joyfully getting wet and filthy, which my mother always told me not to do! As has often, and rightly, been said: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. N.
Drowning a week’s dust.
The woods weep
The down-pipes chuckle, pleased to
Be busy again.
Sit and gaze,
Glad I’m not going
To dumb sheep
Fixing fence, chasing loose cows,
Forking steaming muck,
Some reluctant nag
From a warm
To plod fetlock-deep, and return
Stiff with mud and cold.
Done all that:
In no real hurry
To go back.
But a bit
Of me still thinks of it as
Real work. Not like this:
In front of a screen,
Stand in line,
And only sweating when the
Internet goes down.
Just as well
I have a dog here
Grab coat, hat and boots, head out
To find my old self.
Well, sky, explain how we’ve offended you
This time – why do you glower grimly down
Upon us, dark and threatening? Wish I knew
What malefaction set that furrowed frown
Across the firmament. And you, south wind –
What’s your complaint; why do you rage and roar
Against us? List the ways that we have sinned,
The wickedness we’re now atoning for.
The rain retreats for weeks, and then returns
In storm and sudden flood: the faithless sun
Leaves us in shivering grey before it burns
Our crops and gardens. What is it we’ve done?
The weather is repaying us, it seems,
For our excesses with its own extremes.
The clouds have rolled in. Warning drops in the air.
I’m miles from home, on a hilltop somewhere.
But I’m not heading in. No: it’s time to prepare
For a new task. I’ll go hunting rainbows.
Seems the weather divinities aren’t going to let
This chance to half-drown me escape them. They’ve set
Their rain-dog pack on me. Don’t mind getting wet:
It’s a small price to pay, hunting rainbows.
Though it may only last for a scant quarter-hour
There’s a magical side to this sharp April shower –
Over sunlight it has a miraculous power.
Now’s my moment to start hunting rainbows.
The clouds crack. The sun splits a curtain of rain.
I look to the eastern sky. There, once again,
Old Richard of York’s giving battle in vain:
But I’ve carried the day, hunting rainbows.
And forget the tall tales our grandmothers told
About finding the end and that big crock of gold:
There’s a treasure right here we can have and behold
Any time we go out hunting rainbows.
Got caught in the rain on the bike yesterday. This happens a lot, but under the right conditions it’s not without its upside. You just have to know where to look for it.
My phone camera wasn’t man enough to get a decent picture, so the image is an arc-en-ciel that appeared over the sea in Brittany a couple of summers back. N.
‘Only us dog-walkers out today!”
She says brightly as she passes.
The Downs are drowned
In a drizzle thick and grey
As battleship paint, and yet,
Yes, here we all are:
My new friend with her King Charles,
Shiny boots and pointless shades,
Two Gore-Texed women with five fizzing
Gambolling round their legs like dolphins
Shadowing ships into a harbour, and a feisty papillon
With a heart and voice ten times his size.
A man, head down, hands deep in pockets,
Trudging the hard track round the field
Like a convict in an exercise yard
With a sofa-fat golden retriever
Wide-eyed, wheezing, at his heels.
Merv and Bailey, Ange and Leo.
Sid and Henry, Pete and Alfie,
And me, with the hunting-dog
In his red coat, smiling at the weather.
The familiar crowd of hardy souls,
All wondering as the rain redoubles
And Sunday yawns, goes back to sleep,
Just who is walking whom.
Spells of rain
The Met Office –
With all their talk
And models crunched on mainframes –
Don’t fool me:
In her den
Beneath the building
Is in control.
Firing up her cauldron
She conjures clouds
From the rising steam.
More cackled incantations
Fill them, chill them
Then spill them over southern England.
And on the screen
In the form of a smiling, suntanned man
Foretells her next week’s wicked work:
To put us under
Spells of rain
And turn fair Summer
Into a crabbed and wrinkled Autumn.
Seen from inside
Is a grey hell:
Trees in full leaf flayed by a west wind
Thrash and hiss with spray
A ten-tenths sky leans on the land
Like a drunkard on a doorpost
And next-door’s downpipe
Mumbles an ostinato in its throat.
I stand under the wood’s dripping eaves,
Smiling warm, watching the hunting-dog
Gun down rabbits in the wet field.
No rain reaches beneath my hat-brim;
My jacket turns the wind’s blade like a shirt of mail;
In these boots I could wade a river.
No such thing
As bad weather:
Just the wrong clothing.
This morning brings
A triple killing:
Smothered with a grey cloud blanket;
The cracked ground
Drowned and beaten to a pulp
And my long run of hot, dry roads
Murdered in cold rain.
A summer born and dead too soon.
And the garden sends flowers.