What terrible weather we had yesterday! It was raining like Noah's flood, and so dark inside we had to have the lights on. Working upstairs in my office, I could hardly hear myself think for the wierd rhythms the rain was drumming on the roof. And it made me feel strange; excited, restless and very wide awake. But also rather melancholy. I kept thinking of Katherine Mansfield's journal entry;
‘Late in the evening, after you have cleared away your supper, blown the crumbs out of the book that you were reading, lighted the lamp, and curled up in front of the fire - that is the moment to beware of the rain. You are conscious of a sudden hush. You open your eyes wide. What’s that? Hullo, it’s raining! Reluctant at first, and then faster and faster, tapping against the window, beating on the door, comes the rain. The air seems to change; you are so aware of the dark flowing water that your hands and cheeks grow cold. You begin to walk up and down. How loud the rain sounds! ..... You remember that the kitchen window is wide open. Is the rain coming in? No, not really. You lean out a moment. Two little roof gutters flow into the garden. In the dark they sound like two women sobbing and laughing, talking together and complaining and laughing, out in the wet garden. One says : “ Life is not gay, Katherine. No, life is not gay.” '
About 5 o'clock the river, which had been roaring past like a brown jet-stream, suddenly fell silent as the water level rose high enough to be above the weir. And then it began to creep over the river bank towards the house, drowning the himalayan balsam and the loosestrife, until even the bullrushes were up to their necks. It was more than a foot deep over our front garden and the only way out was to wade through it. We stayed put, watching its advance, listening to the rain and wondering when it was going to stop.
This is my front drive!
This morning there is mud everywhere and wellingtons are the essential footwear. The water didn't come high enough to get onto the ground floor (which is elevated above the river bank), but the level of the flood was unprecedented for the summer months. Winter flooding is a regular feature of life here. On a sandstone pillar, beside the river bank, the occupants of the mill have recorded flood levels, with dates, for hundreds of years and several of the highest marks have been in the last forty years. Now it's something we're going to have to watch for in summer as well as winter.