Saturday, 24 January 2009

A Big Wind. Part One

Cherry, our English neighbour, burst into the courtyard yelling, "There's a big wind coming".
"Cup of tea then?" I offered, disregarding her noisy entrance. She has a tendency to speak loudly. Best to quieten her enthusiasm for drama. "I'll put the kettle on".
"Yes, but there is a BIG WIND on the way, Sue (down the road) says there is." Ah, Sue.
"Two sugars is it?"

Feeling a tad concerned. Perhaps better to put the tarpaulin over the furniture in the tall barn. The tarpulin on the roof is getting a bit tatty. Might leak. "
Lester, might be a good idea to put the tarp on the stuff on the barn." He puts wellies on, grumbling. It's wet outside.

Tarp done.

Time for Cherry to leave. Out at car. Nattering.

Sarah of the Camels stops her car. "There's a BIG WIND coming. Red alert. Farmers have been round to warn me. Been on news. Gets here at 4 tomorrow morning."
"I'll leave my front door open, in case you need shelter" Cherry says in her loud, parade-ground voice.
"I've got a double bed in case, do come along if you need it" adds Sarah, sweetly, but just as distinctly.
Swap phone numbers. We are standing in wellies. Muddied. "Bye" I say, warmed by the care in them, but knowing that we wouldn't be taking them up on their offers.

Walking back to the house, paddling my way through puds, holding my skirt up to avoid splash, I smile. Nice girls the pair of them. None of us with much money. All on the front-line. Sarah's husband back in the UK working, leaving her to run their children's farm on her own but with voluntary help - its tough for them, Cherry - retired, loud, 'in your face', UK government pension to live on only, kindly nevertheless. My heart warms as I think of their efforts at survival here. I think I must warm theirs too as we battle on in our gazebo and caravan.


Off to sleep. Wake up. Ominous quiet all around. Loo. No sound. Must have been a false warning. Look at clock. 3am. Drat! It's too early. Back to bed. To sleep it through is best.
2 mins later: Hear the tarps rustle as a breeze moves over them. Ah, it is come. Hear the wind in the tree tops. This is a different wind. This one means business. An hour early, it has an energy. A great gust shakes the caravan. Lester springs out of bed. "I don't think we're going to make this one" he says, meaning 'will the gazebo stand this battering'. Like a ship it has sailed through many other winds. This one feels more fearsome. This is indeed a BIG WIND! So I am going to close off now, go get some spare clothes to put in the caravan just in case the gazebo dies on us, and will let you know how we get on shortly.


03.50. Lester out in the gazebo tying the side poles to the tarpaulin on the ground. Weighting the gazebo down more than it is already. "It's amazing what you do with sticky tape and a bit of sting, my girl" he says. True. Sticky brown packing tape has kept the gazebo going for months now.
A cow moos. No, don't be silly. Must be the one door left on the gatehouse entrance swinging. Cows don't come out at night. There! It sounds again. My spine prickles. A cow-ghost? The wind is moaning through the treetops, really moaning. But in this space there is a curious calmness, a quietness. The wind seems to be blowing round us. "Cup of tea?" I say to Lester. I am getting spooked. Do something positive. Keep busy.

Silence. Suddenly there is silence. This is a weird wind. It feels all around us. It sounds all around us. The half barn tarp keeps throbbing with noise as if the wind is making drum beats on it. Doesn't normally do that. Lester reading book about gardening, I am writing this to you, then will do some editing on book. "I think tomorrow, I will dig up those two trees by the wall and make a flower bed on that corner. There's not much we can do in this weather" he says. It is 04.20.

Take a sip of tea. Everything's OK. After all, we are camping and we are being enriched by all the experiences that are coming our way. Repeating this over and over to myself, I bid you goodnight.