What else would we discuss in Britain if we didn’t have such changeable weather patterns? My heart goes out to all those people who have lost their homes or access to their homes over the last few weeks as a result of the torrential rain that has relentlessly filled rivers and streams and caused untold damage and heartache.
Today is dreich – a formidable Scottish term for wet, windy, grey, dreary and foreboding. A day for keeping warm and cosy with friends, family, a book or a film.
Growing up on the West Coast of Scotland I am acutely aware of how days like this can leave one feeling low, despondent and lacking in energy. Wellie boots and raincoats never quite drying, pavements and paths slowly succumbing to the green moss that slowly gnaws away at structure and infrastructure until towns and villages begin their descent toward the nearest source of water – a river, stream or loch.
There was a small plot of land at the end of our garden in Garelochhead that Dad had wanted to buy in order to extend the garden, even knowing as he did that it was liable to flooding. When the Gare Loch was in high tide and began its powerful journey up a small Burn that was already full with rainwater from the hills, the inevitable busting of banks would ensue, flooding the adjoining field and edging its way towards our garden which had a drystone wall as its boundary. As children we loved this event and would marvel at how quickly the garden would disappear under a swirl of angry tide, settle for an hour or so and then slowly eek back to where it came from. During one such high tide my younger sister E took her kayak out from the shed and paddled merrily over the cauliflower and sprouts Mum had nurtured in the vegetable garden.
Unfortunately the end plot was sold to a builder insistent on erecting two semi-detached houses in spite of protestations from Dad that the plot flooded. The builder went ahead, the houses grew and settled, families moved in, their gardens flooded.
I know that for many people the recent atrocious weather has been anything but fun and many have lost prices momentos, businesses and money.
Are we in some way to blame for the extent at which rivers and streams are pouring over lowland? I know we can’t completely influence the weather, but by removing hedges and woodland, extending intensive farming practices and spewing ever more effluent into our waterways, are we not just stamping over the natural barriers and processes that would allow most heavy rainfall to return to rivers and streams without such devastating consequences?
Dreich – a poem
incessant and wet
a cold slap to my cheeks
relentless and cruel
devastation it wreaks