El Nino comes steaming along every two to seven years, presaging eccentric climate worldwide, with associated poor fishing and crop failure. They say that this one is going to be the worst for half a century. I’m not afraid; this is the forecast of people who would be hard pressed to predict tea time with any degree of precision. Mine is a tiny island encircled by sea. Conditions are subject to change at the drop of a bowler hat. Still the suits pontificate, assuming gravitas whilst talking out of their thermal underpants. Azores High, Gulf Stream, Atlantic Conveyor, we are surrounded by uncertainty but they make it seem scientific. I wish that they were honest on occasion; how pleasant to hear them say “Well, your guess is as good as mine”.
Winter under the cherry tree
We’ve had nothing but rain for two months and I’m becoming tired of the squelchy motif. Less generous souls would say I’m getting crabby. I find myself blaming the prophets of gloom when they are right and the heavens open. I criticise their acumen when they are wrong and the downpour deepens. The puddle outside my front gate has been developing steadily; the pool is now so fathomless that it could be used for synchronised swimming trials. In the back, the pond has a meniscus and the fish sit with their faces pressed to the surface, doing Chicken Little impressions as they creep closer to the sky. Their fins are ill suited to manoeuvring buckets, should bailing be required. Cold and damp notwithstanding, global warming is happening in my own patch of heaven. Plants are blooming already, despite their very names indicating a later show time. All over the garden, the Hellebores (Lenten roses) are storming ahead at full swing.
Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralia) & Fargesia (clump forming bamboo)
When I want an accurate assessment of the weather, I look out of a window. My father used to pay undue attention to well dressed woolly headed charlatans. In consequence, I spent an inordinate amount of time as a child drifting out to sea on a windswept lilo, or sucking soggy sandwiches as rain howled past horizontally. Never an outdoorsman, he used to organise al fresco piddling in stands of nettles for an encore. I inherited the same instincts for wilderness survival, since I got married in a coastal town during a force nine gale. The wedding photographs show the bride as a meringue inflated like a helium balloon. The groom in prodigious flared trousers, fared only a little better.
Helleborus foetidus (stinking hellebore) self sown seedlings
I shouldn’t moan. I must pay tribute to people everywhere who watch their belongings drift by on an unexpected tide and wonder where they left the mop and bucket. This is not just a British trait, this is courage I have seen exhibited across the planet. I hope that the doomsayers are mistaken and that we will all enjoy a productive and peaceful summer, with as much precipitation as necessary and no more. Who am I to speak? I don’t have the foggiest idea.