There’s a certain twisted pride to be had, in wet-weather walking. A grim-faced relish in stumping across lethal, greasy fields, and through sodden, thigh-high grasses.
Today we are walking through Dave’s bottom fields, and it is raining in a drizzled, irritable way, as if the clouds just can’t be arsed. The sky is the dirty white of an old sheep’s fleece, and the wind is blowing the rain sideways. Upwards, too, it feels like. Up beneath my Oxford Shooting cap, or down (horribly) my neck, making short work of my flowered green scarf.
The dogs and I forge on, sticking to the margins of the fields to avoid the worst of the mud. Pants is his normal loopy self, but Dora is close by my heels. Too close – I occasionally catch her chin with my heel.
The rain pushes me deeper into my thoughts, which is good, because instead of mooning at trees, I’m thinking about European politics, and whether the Common Purpose people are goodies or baddies, and will they sue me if I use them in fiction? I think about it for the whole length of the Dryer field, then again in the next, the one before Emma’s Bottom Meadow.
At the far corner, I stop for a moment, surprised. The chlorophyll in the grasses has dropped to such a level, that in the rain-dim light, the grasses appear a peachy-pink coral. I’ve never noticed it before, and it’s particularly strange when set against the dead Angelica – its seed-heads black with rot. I frown at it for a moment, distracted from my plot. Why’ve I never noticed this before? Is it because grass is so rarely left uncut?
I thrash onwards, my jeans soaked to the hem of my jacket. Even Pants has become more subdued now, and he’s covered in reddish mud. There’s a fat Springer in Emma’s Bottom Meadow, and the dogs are so dispirited, they don’t even bother to go and say hello.
Cheer up, I tell them. I scrape uselessly at my knackered Hunters, pushing cold mud through the holes and onto my feet. I add such discomfort to my shield of rain-martyrdom.
Jolly up, dogs, I say, hauling them along. At home there’s a fire, and dry towels, and a biscuit. Come on, lickety-split. Let’s march. I thrill to the spiteful squall that hurls wet leaves in my face. Weather. I am a country housewife. Thou shalt not defeat me.