What is it in human nature that always makes us long for the exact opposite of what we are getting at that moment? I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m constantly wishing for something different for I’m pretty easy-going – well I think so, anyway But over the last few days I’ve heard myself saying “if only…” a lot more often than is usual.
Until Brexit changed our outlook somewhat, as a nation we were brought up to believe that talking politics (or religion) was taboo, it wasn’t something to discuss even amongst close friends or family. It was always said that the reason for not doing so was to avoid offending anyone. I think that may just have been an assumption and that the real reason for not talking about these things is because we Brits are always taking about the weather. There’s no time left to discuss anything else. One of the certainties in an uncertain world is that in the UK the weather will never be the same two days running. Now even that certainty has been take away from us for we have been suffering from high temperatures and prolonged drought.
I have extended family scattered all over the world and as a child lived in a house where foreign accents and languages were frequently heard for not all of our visitors spoke English. One of the phrases that was a constant, for we lived in the countryside, was how green our landscape was. Those that came from more tropical climes couldn’t believe how cool our summers were either. This year they would feel more at home for our fields and woods are tinder dry and our grass parched and brown. It is for this reason that I have been saying “if only…” As a relief from the arid conditions, I have decided to write about cooler, wetter times not because I really want it to snow in August but so that we had some images to look at to remind us that, unlike many other places, our drought and oppressive heat is unlikely to last very long in comparison. If it helps to make me feel slightly less grumpy about our present state, then so much the better.
“If only it was colder” – to wake up at the break of day to cloudless skies and sunshine is, to put it frankly, un-British. There’s nothing worse than to lie in bed overheating only to find no relief when you get up. Give me a crisp, frosty morning any day, when the sky is blue, the air cold and our little river shimmering, not in a heat-haze but a cold-haze. Of course, in reality, our winters aren’t like that very often. Far too often the days are grey and gloomy but I’m highly unlikely to say “if only…” about one of those.
“If only it would snow” – I love the white stuff even though it does make life more difficult. Whether the drifts are across the road or not, we have to be out in it to attend to our horses for they need feeding and watering whatever the weather. Snow in southern England is a very hit or miss affair and we have had none for the last few years. Only once in the past twenty years of living in the secret valley have I had snow deep enough to ski on and it is a great source of pride and pleasure that I managed it even once. There is nothing like clipping on a pair of skis and swishing through a landscape that has been silenced by snow. The photos below were taken some years ago – just looking at them makes me feel pleasantly cool.
“If only it would rain” – these words are almost never spoken in this island nation for rain is constantly being blown inland on a south-westerly from off the Atlantic Ocean. However, at the moment, it is rain we need more than anything. Our garden plants are shrivelling, the winter corn cannot be sown for the ground is rock hard. And as inferred to earlier, we miss our green grass, our wildflowers and the verdancy of our woodlands. The last couple of days the forecasters have been telling us that rain is on its way and that it will be torrential when it arrives. So far, we have had three light showers lasting just a couple of minutes. What we need is two weeks or more of gentle, refreshing rain. Whether we get it we shall have to wait and see. Our valley looks rather splendid when it is flood but I don’t really think we should wish for that.
There is one more “if only…” that I know I shall be saying before long and that is “if only it would go back to that lovely summer weather we were having.” Some people are just never satisfied!