What Shall We Talk About?

Raindrops on Bright Stripey Umbrella

I know!  Let’s talk about the weather, universally popular, universally safe.  Or maybe that should read ‘universally UNpopular’ as we never seem happy about it do we?  Too cold, too wet, too dry, too hot.  Never satisified with what we’ve got, we’re eternal pessismists so that even if we’re forced to admit that the weather is lovely then we will also have to add that oh well, the flowers are all dying it’s been so hot or that the forecast is for torrential rain for the next two weeks.  Is anyone content with their weather pattern?

It’s been raining here.  In fact you could mistake it for November at times what with the murk, mist, rain and wind.  It’s had everyone grumbling about another rotten summer.  Never mind the fact that two months ago we were in the middle of a heatwave and everyone was grumbling about just how hot it was!  It’s still fairly warm, especially when you compare it to the temperature that we usually have in November.  Or even most Augusts!

I take the weather as it comes but never get wishfully optimistic.  I aim for rain or snow for most outings or special occasions and then work from there.  The result is that I’m usually pleasantly surprised whilst everyone else is disappointed.  Sunshine for an August wedding?  You better start wishing for snow at least then anything would be an improvement.

It always rains heaviest under the trees.  Sometimes it seems as though it is still raining under the trees even though it has dried up on the rest of the street so you either get caught, surprised, by the sudden drips that splash down on your head or you look a right numpty still clinging to your umbrella.

It was a particularly miserable day the other morning when I was walking into town.  Never mind the lashings of rain, it was wet everywhere; it was creeping up my trouser legs, it was sneaking under the rim of my umbrella, it was splashing down my hand holding the umbrella.  And yes, I had decided that I needed to go the one and a half miles into town in such weather.  Of course.  It always makes sense.

You know how a sound, a smell can take you straight back to something, somewhere?  I was walking along under the trees when this especially vicious drop plopped down on the black taut fabric of the umbrella with a crack like a shot.  It startled me.  Then the very next second a car came around the corner and drove up the road with its trailer bumping along the uneven rough road, it sounded just like the rumble of heavy artillery.

And it took me back.

Many years ago I was visiting my grandmother in the winter, it was a dark evening and I wasn’t yet even in my teens, when an artillery practice started.  Oh my goodness!  It was absolutely terrifying.  The house was shaking.  The windows and doors were jangling in their frames.  We had been sat in her conservatory but we got out of that very sharpish and went to sit elsewhere.  The glass panes were shaking above our heads.  It felt like it went on for hours.  You just stopped what you were doing and waited for it to stop, hoping that that would be very soon.

It was unbelievably frightening and yet this was not a war, those were not ‘enemy’ troops, it was just a practice session.  We were not in any immediate danger despite appearances to the contrary.

This occured at about the same time that there was a war in the Balkans.  We had just heard of people’s experiences of it, of families hunkering down in cellars for some protection and being shelled at from a distance of one mile or so.  The practice session was taking place forty miles away.  I had those people in my mind that evening and it added tremendous depth of understanding to their account.

I brought this story to mind with a drop of rain, I lived through nothing as traumatic as they must have.  I wonder how they’re still affected by their experiences, whether they’ve ever shaken free from that terror.

It also brings home another powerful lesson: fear is always relative.  Fear is a personal concept, it is one of our own understanding or sometimes our lack of understanding.


13 thoughts on “What Shall We Talk About?

Add yours

  1. I still get a little freaked out when I hear the loud siren-y noise on my radio or TV when there’s a test of our emergency broadcast system, so I can’t even imagine how scared I’d be of an artillery practice.

    RE: heavy rain…I keep extra clothes in my office for the couple of times a year I get drenched on the way to work. Sitting in wet clothes once was enough for me.

    Great post. Like how you linked the rain with your memory.

    1. Oooh, it sounds like you’ve got some pretty serious weather where you live! No, sitting in wet clothes is definitely no pleasant, jeans especially just get plain itchy in my experience! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. As a child, it must have seemed like a “disconnect” that humans would practice all this scary stuff for the sake of hurting other people.

    When N. America was afraid of the Russians bombing us, I couldn’t even begin to get my head around it. It made no sense at all to this child. I was not surprised at all that it never happened!

    Good subject – well written. Thank you!

  3. This reminds me of my own Grandmother. She lived in London during WWII as a teen, and even now she says that fireworks remind her too much of The Blitz for her to enjoy them.

    Isn’t it funny how sound and smell are tied so closely to memory?

  4. Great story…growing up in the family of a mom who lived her formative years in a displaced person’s camp in Germany during WWII…i have often thought of what that must have been like and how people survived. How powerful our senses are and how intertwined they are in our very being…thank you for sharing!

  5. I know exactly what you mean about the sound taking your back–smells do it, too–but I’ve never been transported back in time to a moment so fraught with unsettling emotion. Forty miles! Incredible. We really have been blessed not to have had wars in our backyards.

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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