The Weather Coming
As I pludged my way across the water-logged fields in my wellies this morning, my thoughts were on the other side of the Atlantic, with the victims of Hurricane Irma. The weather, across the world is changing - even here in one of the most temperate zones. I know to my cost the power of water to alter lives.
It's the end of the first week of September, but those of us who live in the north are already being pitched into an early autumn, without really having a summer. The weir outside the Mill is running high and fast. The ground is saturated. Many migratory birds have already left and the trees are turning.
It's still warm (by northern standards!) but there's already a cool feeling to the evenings. Along the river, autumn is beautiful, the water reflecting the turning leaves and the cloud patterns of the sky.
But all is not well. The river levels have been high and it doesn't take much rain to turn it into a raging torrent. All along the banks there's evidence of slippage, as the river eats into the soil and undercuts the trees until they fall. Some farmers have been planting willows to slow the onslaught.
Some trees have simply been unable to cope with the higher water table. This one on the edge of the river, healthy before Storm Desmond in 2015, is just about clinging to life.
As a child in the Caldbeck Fells, I was surrounded by elderly farmers who had learned their craft before the days of weather forecasting. Each one had their own special signs they swore by. A cool, damp summer was one omen for a long and stormy winter; early bird migration, huge molehills as the moles dug down deep - these were the things they looked for. Some quoted the berry harvest, others argued that a lack of red berries was the sign of a harsh winter - a lean summer, followed by a keen winter. Who knows? But this year the molehills on the river bank are very large indeed.