Flood days

The rain came and in the cold night turned to snow. Dusting cars and grass verges, a seasonal decoration. In the morning the light crept in milky and shy, a day only half awake, longing to be back under the covers.

We walked to the post box before office hours to send the remaining Christmas cards. We are ahead of ourselves this year, trying to prepare for the unexpected.

Turning into Stranger’s Lane we see an orange blur emerging from the farm track across the A28. A fox. It runs across the road and up the lane, hugging the wall of a house. We rarely see them in daylight, they are creatures of dusk and darkness. It is not yet full grown, and runs like a sniper, cover blown. When the wall opens out into an entry way it turns and vanishes.

On our return we are almost home when I notice the gulls are especially noisy. Looking up a flock of pigeons spatter the sky; two gulls are calling, wheeling while mobbing a much larger bird. At first I think it must be a buzzard, but the wings are too wide and the body drifting behind is wrong for raptor. It is a grey heron. Dipping momently behind the roofline it emerges further on, the gulls still squawking their disapproval; get off my land. The world is full of omens.

Photo: Fiona Phillips 2020

Another day, another brief foray into the world (which continues to turn, despite our domestic dramas). The river is swollen, fat and frisky with the rain of past days it rushes and twirls its way sea-ward, murky with mud, creeping up into back gardens, lapping at bench legs or decking, nibbling lawns and shrubs. The ducks dabble where last week was lawn.

On the far side of the bridge the water has spread into the bankside grass, now a shallow lake. I am fascinated by the way this body of water behaves. How it rises and falls, changing daily. How what was last week a grass space where I watched a family feeding ducks, is now a pond, lurking murkily. The trees are stark etching against the slate grey of sky, scratched into place by the cold, printed. Reflections shimmer in the waters swirling satin beneath.

We are in the flood days, nothing what it was. These encroachments change us. As the landscape shifts minutely with the floods expansion, contraction, the flood days sweep us on; when we stand between what was and what is to be. When the rains come to fill up and wash away, moving us, tide-born, where we do not wish to go, but are journeying nonetheless.

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