You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
We were woken at 4 o'clock this morning by the flash of lightning and the crunch and rumble of thunder. For ten minutes we stood by the window watching the sky being cracked open, and listened to the rain pouring down. Back in bed, as the thunderstorm seemed to move on, we were suddenly rocked where we lay, as the thunder crashed into the house. Impressive. Heart-stopping!
One night when we were young, my older brother Colin, seeing that we were scared by the thunder and lightning, pulled the living room curtains wide and enticed me, our younger brother, and mum to stand and watch, and then enjoy the spectacle that nature was providing. Oh, he would have enjoyed this one!
Rumble thy bellyful; spit, fire; spout, rain.*
So, the intense heat of the last couple of weeks is broken, at least for a while. The water butts which were all but empty (not even enough water to come out of their taps without, perhaps, tipping the barrels over) are now almost full. The plants standing in saucers have had to be drained and left to dry out as best they can. The aloe vera plants which had suffered such neglect over the winter, were just beginning to recover in the heat of the last couple of weeks - they're now soaked through and have been brought indoors until the sun comes out for a spell to dry them off and there is no more chance of such heavy rain.
Oh, but the rain is welcome! Our grass is parched and brown - I wasn't going to waste precious water on it - but it might recover a little bit of its colour now. The earth looks black and healthy, and all the flowers that have been neglected have had a much needed drink. The fruit trees, tomatoes, the few vegetables, and the seedlings I've planted are the only things to have had anything from the water butts and then, only when they both ran dry, tap water.
Now, everything is washed clean. The first of the day lilies opened up this morning, a welcome splash of orange after many of the flowers have already gone over. Everything is spritzed with cool water, and is sparkling now in the soft, grey light.
* from King Lear, Act 3 Scene 2
When we saw David Calder play Lear at the Globe a few years ago, the final scene was marred by a mobile phone going off. The owner stood oblivious, trying to ignore it, but eventually reached down, rummaged in her bag and finally switched the thing off (if she hadn't, I think someone would have gone and stamped on the damned thing). Somehow, Calder rescued us, pulled us back in - and the final lines were witnessed through teary eyes and tight throats. Brilliant.
The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.