Some may despair when the rain comes down on a November day. I try to always remember the drought, the longing for rain in my childhood days and for me, rain is good. It is a mantle of thoughts day – inward day. A normal but never normal day (for she is never the ordinary good, or bad.)
I love the rain. The enveloping of it all. I love especially, remembering how much I loved the rain whilst at school – it meant, Art days. Rather than try to compete on the sports fields, Art was the colouring, painting, expression of self time. Can still smell the craypas – or pastels as we call them now.
As I began the long journey to Ham House, knowing full well that none would want a garden tour in the falling rain, it would be the perfect venue for working in. Warm Orangerie, cheese scones and tea – the sort of mother comforting day. Another misunderstanding lay heavy in my heart, we get those, but it matched the mood. Still, as I walked down the foot paths in heavy rain, the drops from falling oak leaves and puddles before me, it led me to the Petersham. And there, in the rain, the graves beneath the carpet of leaves were so full of stories, other than my own. I could not help but stand in their moments, some far back, some never back from war, and felt gifted, to just, in silence, pay homage and think, well madam, you are still here.
Perhaps ‘Melancholy walk’ seems more poignant when you are dripping with raindrops and standing before a bench of someone once here, loved it here and now … a name on a bench. At least they were loved enough to have a bench – will I be rewarded a bench, I think, be rooted to memory in a favourite spot – and where will that spot be, I think and nod to this person, and move on. I am alone along the river, covered in mist, the boats moored and listless. Even the horses I pass have their heads low under the dropping, the dropping of rain.
But it is not a sad day. It is a winsome day. Chatting to Tom in the Orangerie, he is full of dreams of acting and performing and I am lifted by his resolve. Dreams are such good things. Blow me down, not only am I deep in working, but there stands, waiting, four eskimos ready for the tour. In this weather, me freezing and unequipped? Strange but true and the tour is muddled around puddles – they are here and I deliver, wishing I were elsewhere instead, like a warm bed, with a great lover and conversations of life.
Pumpkin time is over and somehow the starkness of the garden shows another side to landscaping – the bare structures reveal the bones of her life. Stark hedges, the kitchen garden with little to offer at this time – menus and diet were seriously compromised a hundred odd years ago. We are fortunate now to be able to buy fruit and vegetables but then, it meant little people and lots of sickness so lucky us. Don’t ever give up on your Vitamin C!
Surrounded by wonderful stories, the rain continues unabated and the second tour, thank God, is empty. It’s only two pm but I know that the dark is coming and she does, at four today. A long walk to Richmond, another bus and this time the stories of today are hustled and closeted in the red bus that takes an hour longer because of the weather. Oh my, the spirits are failing as a child kicks my seat, another is screaming and I cannot see out of the window for the vapours that are humanity as we move at a snails pace and then ‘your bus terminates here.’ Here! Where! This is nowhere for me!
The romance of the day is gone in the public shuffling to get home. When I do, cold, soaked as a frail, discarded afterthought, darkness all around, I am still not defeated by the day. It was a up and down day, a day when others were troopers in their heady gear, full of dreams of youth, colouring in day, London winter day filled with history and stories day, I know that in so many hours of this day, I felt hopeless, invigorated, saw history, touched the future and survived public transport too. So many stories to share, to learn from and warm again, it was a good day. The misunderstanding I shall rectify, the rain is feeding the daffodils and love will survive the seasons.
As for those still wanting the tours in the darkest, rainiest days – bring it on!
I’ve got the magic in me. So how was your day?