Not for the first time on this blog, I am writing about dog-walking in high winds. According to the weather reports, we have had wind speeds of 50-60 mph here today. Listening to that wind battering the house, I would have thought those numbers might be higher. But at least as the speed increased, the rain-clouds were blown away.
Leaves missed in last year’s clear-up have discovered new life. They are blowing around like small tornadoes, filling any corner or gap they can find, and rustling like a natural musical instrument as they circle. Tree branches small and large are clattering onto the flat roofs and paved areas, and even the tight hedges are creaking and bending in the gusts.The high chimney that serves the wood-burner is making ominous ‘clicking’ sounds, as it resists, and all TV channels are constantly interrupted when the outside aerial gets the full force.
But Ollie still has to go out. So, on with my biggest coat, fake-fur collar turned up against the blow. At least there is no need to struggle with an umbrella today, and probably no point in trying anyway. Closing the side gate as we leave, it feels as if some giant hand is trying to stop me puling it shut. As I watch wheelie-bins rolling around opposite the house, I am not excited by the prospect of two hours or more outside. But birthday or not, it must be done. And Ollie is oblivious to weather, whatever the conditions.
Over at Beetley Meadows, the wind hit my chest like a well-placed punch from an experienced boxer. As I struggled with my gloves after taking off Ollie’s lead, he scampered off as if it was just a mild Spring day. I could hear twigs falling through the branches, and some ominous creaking of the thinner trees, as their roots struggled to combat the force of the gales. But like anything, you get used to it. After forty minutes, I headed off over to the wilder expanses of Hoe Rough, where Ollie is always extra keen to go exploring. On the main path, the strength of the gusts was enough to make breathing difficult, so I diverted to the sides, closer to the river.
After two hours, I considered my duty done, and I decided to head for home. As I walked back with Ollie, I had time to reflect on the timeless power of nature.
And how insignificant we are, in the face of that.