Friday, October 3, 2014

Wet and wind

Most of the photos I post are of Cumbria on sunny days--the few that we have. And although we have had a very good stretch of nice weather lately, the truth is that the Lake District is usually windy and wet. The forecast for the next 24 hours is a month's worth of rain in a single day. Sadly, this is not unusual. So even though I pretend it's always like this:

It's actually usually like this:

Or even like this:

Coping with the weather has been a big struggle for me, especially the first year we lived here. The first day of school was 50 degrees with 70mph winds. I sent the children off in their winter coats. After eight years back in the US, I'd got used to expecting sunshine. I'd enjoyed the full range of the seasons: hot, humid summers; glorious, balmy autumns; cold, snowy winters; and lovely, warm springs. Each one had its delights and challenges, but at least it was varied. And yet within that variation rainy days were infrequent enough that you could actually enjoy the novelty of carrying an umbrella or watching the downpour from your window, a mug of tea in hand.

Things are a little different here. Rain is, sadly, the norm. Only recently I read that Cumbria is the wettest county in England, a fact which shouldn't have surprised me but still did. The funny thing is, because the weather is so bad, we talk about it all the time. I have become British in that I am obsessed with the weather. I check it constantly and compare it to New York--something I really shouldn't do, because it so rarely is in my favour. And even though the weather is usually wet and windy (and cold, the average high in July is a scorching 67 degrees), every school run involves conversations such as this:

Neighbor: You all right? (Cumbrian for how are you?)
Me: Yes, fine, glorious today, isn't it!
Neighbor: Isn't it red hot! (It might be hovering around 60 degrees)
Me: Oh, yes.


Neighbor: You all right?
Me: Yes, terrible weather though.
Neighbor: Isn't it dreadful! Raining buckets.
Me: Yes, but at least we did have some sunny weather.
Neighbor: That's right, we can't complain!

And a thousand variations thereof.

I could tell you that living in a place where the weather is generally awful has its advantages but the truth is, it doesn't. It's more about making the best of a bad situation. I've learned to enjoy (and even revel, deliriously) in the beautiful days. And Cumbria, on a sunny day, is rather jaw-droppingly glorious. As for the bad days? Sometimes you can enjoy the sound of the wind outside which can be astonishingly loud--rattling windowpanes, soughing through trees, and generally making a lot of noise. We have six working fireplaces in our vicarage and it can be very cozy to sit by the fire with a cup of tea and be glad you're not outside in the driving downpour. Of course, eventually you have to go out--to pick up kids from school is the usual reason. Driving a car to school is not a possibility unless the weather is truly torrential because the parking on the narrow high street is so difficult (and trust me, having to reverse into a parking space in my 7-seater car on a very narrow street while driving on what I still consider to be the wrong side of the road is just about my worst nightmare). So on comes the wet weather gear: Wellies, waterproof jacket, umbrella, and sometimes even waterproof pants, or as we would say in England, waterproof trousers (waterproof pants giving the sense more of a diaper, or should I say, nappy). And out I go into the driving rain, the relentless wind, and smile cheerfully to my neighbour as we shake our heads at the weather that still seems like a surprise, even when it really shouldn't.


  1. What a brilliantly evocative piece of writing - which immediately makes me want to come and visit - as well as to applaud you for your use of the word "soughing" (which I had to look up!).
    Sharon xx

  2. Thank you Sharon! Admittedly 'soughing' is not a word I use often, although considering how windy it is here, perhaps I should...