Apparantly, in polite conversation, you are recommended to avoid mentioning politics and religion. Obviously if everyone did that Facebook would disappear overnight but, on the whole, with people I don’t know (and a few I do) I find this very good advice. However, there is one very popular subject of conversation which, unlike most people, I would personally love to hear less rather than more of – the weather. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I am really a British woman – I don’t like talking about the weather and I hate buying shoes…It is odd though, as I am as interested in what is happening in the way of rain/sun/snow outside as the next person, but I’m just really bad at talking about it. Or maybe I just don’t like inaccurate talk about it – if someone tells me it’s freezing and there is no actual ice I am always, at the very least, slightly miffed. Let’s just add it to the general oddity of Jane..That said I do enjoy most sorts of weather but I am probably one of the few people who avoids sunshine (for complicated reasons involving having to use Factor 50 suncream on some parts of my body…). I mean, how many people don’t like using umbrellas in the rain but will happily utilise one as a parasol?
How then could I resist a book about the joys of walking in the rain? After all I do have a full set of waterproofs, walking boots and faith in the phrase ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes’. And Melissa Harrison’s timely little volume (given recent weather conditions) is a beauty – like rainy days it is, in places, lush, fresh and soothing. The language used is often poetic but there are also good, accurate descriptions of the natural world. I am interested in rewilding and this book showed me that it is about more than just planting trees – did you know that peat holds 30 times more carbon than trees? I was struck by the idea that those of us who only experience rain in urban surrounding miss the joy of the soft sounds of falling rain – like light pollution low-grade noise pollution is rife in towns and cities. I was also reminded, via the descriptions of the various walks covered in the book, of novels set in those parts of the world (for example when reading about the fens I was transported to Ariana Franklin’s Winter Seige and Dorothy L Sayers Nine Taylors – two of my favourite books, so a total win for me!).
This book is so wonderfully, wonderfully British. I mean where else in the world would have developed a British Rainfall Organisation? Or a leech-powered storm warning system? As for me, I’m off out for a stroll – there is a light drizzle falling, Spring is here and I need to get out there and enjoy it!