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Rain has made the lane lush, the river rampant, and the swallow-skimmed valley radiant in many shades of green. The landscape is lit from within like a magic lantern. It’s almost like watching slide-film in a theatre but for the deliquescent air – the kiss of cloud on skin.

Tentatively the flowers untremble. Stitchwort, bluebells and violets unfold like new butterfly wings.

DSC_1152
The river sluices over shingle-slate. It’s capricious with its waves like rolling porpoises and its cadence of applause. A pair of grey-wagtails flash past, flushed from their nest in a fissure of dripping rock, leaving an impression of yellow in the wet air.

 

Laundry-steam clouds caress Tarren-y-Gesail, purple slate gleams and Welsh poppies shake off their drops.

 

 
It’s the same all the way to the polling station; every wood warbler singing its manifesto, every leaf an incandescent candidate.

Toppling a plank, I startled a lizard. It lay immobile at first – still hibernating, its blood was cool. But hail smashed about and it started to twitch as I hurriedly rebuilt his home.

The snowdrops quaked, the catkins trembled and the sky was filthy.

DSC_1107There were pockets of hail in the bracken and bracken and hail in my pockets.

But the brambles were easy to snap and the soil a loose ice-crystal tilth.

Better to garden in blizzards I thought, than be hampered in June by pesky plants.

The lizard I think, disagrees.

It rained so much the compost is floating in the bin, but it doesn’t matter. It rained so much the garden is wet as milky cereal but it doesn’t matter. The stream is loud as cymbals and motorways, it makes a noise like many people shouting things beginning with ‘s’, but it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter because there is a clean wind.
It doesn’t matter because there is light where the leaves used to be.

DSC_0982The pond is full and clear.
Rain laps over the grass field like rivers over weed – it has become a quiet, watery, worm-swim world.

By the waterfall, waves roll up the bank like wet seals.
Swelling, the stream pours over rocks like caresses over hips.
The grass lies wind-flattened in ripples facing east, each blade a silver sword.

I take a walk to the waterfall and wash my boots in the grass.
When I come back I open the windows and let the wind in.

The wood-ash of previous Sundays was damp under the bath and the fire took time to catch.

An elm and an apple twig reached across.

On the hill, the wind stirred the oaks and moved them like currents disturbing rock-weed in a pool. Larch fronds were graceful as tentacles, they waved and flowed and danced.

Eastnet, Lundy, Irish Sea
Showers good
Perhaps severe gale 9 later

After the shipping forecast the water was ready.

DSC_0898Squalls of rain spattered across the dark garden as we hurried across it.

The branches bowed, the wind soughed.

The bath was hot. Rain fell onto our heads and made our hair cold to touch. But we sunk and slunk deep into the water. Prickles of rain fell onto our lolling arms like little pins and needles.

Sometimes a larger drop fell onto a belly or cheek and we’d notice the whole of it, the whole of the drop, a cold dissolving pool, on hot wet skin.

The fire beneath the bath tossed orange light and ghost smoke into the night.

The stream rushed and spoke to the trees.

After the bath we strolled back naked across the garden, with wet plants brushing at our skin.

One day in June we found circles of leaf-confetti on the veranda. There was a drift of them under Rob’s red jacket and when we brushed against it more floated out. Inside the hood was a stock-pile of leaf circles. And behind the hood in the dark recesses of coat, a leaf-cutter bee was building a nest.

Earlier in summer we’d evicted crumpety wasp-nests from our wellies, but the leaf-cutter bee was a curious and welcome guest. Usually they nest in rotting wood, old walls or plant stems. The females glue leaf-circles together with saliva. They lay an egg between each layer and fill the gap with nectar for the larvae.

Snapshot_20140903_2Rob’s waterproof red jacket is slippy and the nest slid out, followed sometime later by a second. Then little Jacob came to visit. With delight and concern he watched the leaf-cutter bee carrying circles of wild rose leaf across the garden. Not to worry said Jacob, he could speak to bees. ‘Go to your new home!’ he said pointing sternly to the hedge. The bee seemed to understand – we didn’t see her again.

We put the nests in a dark recess of shelf and today I took one down for a look. Rolled, overlapping, and beginning to brown at the edges, the rose leaves are pasted into a cigar shape. The cell tracery is clear. Suddenly I heard a muted buzz and saw the undergrowth wobble beside me. There was our leaf-cutter bee – toppling off the fern as if she’d been spying and was keen to remain unseen.

I took another look at Rob’s red jacket. Sure enough and more secure than before, there is another nest in there, deeper into the dark behind the hood.

The wet wired-up slate fence posts of Hen Gau Valley are blue as plums and solemn as graves.

I walk past them today wearing waterproof socks that squelch and squirt in my stream-filled boots while my leggings funnel warm drafts and I listen to the rhythm of my feet and the rain-distorted noises in my hood.

DSC_0694Up beyond the fence at Crach Fynydd Pass, in a bog I shed my hood and hear a breath of wind stir the grass. Rain-radiant heather shines pink and moss glows as green as if each capillary cell is lit from within. To my fingers whinberries are cool and damp but bitten burst purple with warm juice. Water-light dissolves the clouds – sends them to scud across valleys – and a single wet cotton grass gleams.

Below, in the darker lanes approaching Dolgellau corridors of air lurk. Walking through them is like swimming in a river of warm and cold green currents.

The beach and the car park were strewn with carefree crowds. I threw my rucksack down at the edge of the dunes and waited for the chip shop to open. The light was still sharp, but so now was the wind; the elements threw sand and shadows at me so I moved to the warm sheltering pavement and unintentionally started a queue.

It was a wriggling impatient queue, a queue that checked its watch and leered through the windows to bother the staff, a queue that snorted the smell of batter, paper, old vinegar, (and a hint of drain from down the passage) and a queue that swelled and shuffled so that when the door opened we hurled all at once to the counters behind which, safely armed with chip scoops, the staff- clearly used to such behaviour – told us where to stand and what to do, and we the queue, became meek.

 

Snapshot_20140625Four and twenty flew out of a pie on the glossy sleeve of my Cadbury’s Nursery Rhymes LP, so when I see blackbirds I still smell vinyl and think of chocolate.

A pair of them live greedily in the raspberry thicket, gloating and fruity in warble. I ignore them, they’ve already won – little white cores hang where berries should be.

Every dawn and every dusk, a song thrush sings. She beaks through the wood-chip and pauses, tilting her head. Then she stands on the log with her back to the sun spreading first her tail and then each wing, pulsing in the heat.

Freckled. Brown. Basking.

And the garden-table shadow lattice creeps across the ground.

 

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