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31st May 2021
After changeable weather in April, it is as if a “low” has sat over Northern France for the whole of May. Day after day of chill winds, low temperatures and rain, more rain. Persistent rain, long showers, short sharp showers, drizzle, we have had them all. We have seen rainbows, different skies, stormy beauty, but it seems every day, rain. We know we are not alone with this weather across Europe. Just the last 3 days early summer has arrived with wall-to-wall sunshine and warmth, hurrah!
However, there is always beauty. A stormy Somme sky is beautiful. Rainbows falling on Cemeteries bringing a particular poignancy. The fields have now turned to vivid green as the new growth has responded to the life-giving rain. Everywhere now looks lush, renewed, we now need the warmth, which has started this past weekend.
Despite the weather there has been plenty to keep us busy this month, we have continued walking, and we have some stories to tell here.
But all this rain of course makes us think of how this affected the soldiers who were here in all weathers. After a walk, we come back to a warm house, hot tea and dry clothes - not so easy in the trenches.
Rain too, has its own poetic rhythm as we hear it on our windows. It is no better used in poetry than by Edward Thomas in his poem simply called “Rain.” Written while he was in a hut on the battlefields.
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.