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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Featured, Place, Writing |

Strips of coloured air

Strips of coloured air

October 3

Strips of coloured air

Driving home yesterday along the Five Mile Lane. For a fleeting moment, the most extraordinary glimpse of three fields lying in visual strips, perspective foreshortened by the natural contours. No place to stop: the Five Mile Lane is called that for a reason, with many places where passing is impossible, and it’s quite a busy road because it is a huge shortcut between the Kingsbridge-Totnes road and Slapton Sands.

The fields have all been cut and shaved, some already ploughed for the winter planting. The only exception the fields of maize which will suffer the onslaught of autumn winds and rain for some time yet, maturing on drying on the stalk. Tractor activity goes in phases, and the last few weeks the roads and fields have been busy with ploughing or discing, and the spraying of unknown substances that smell rather unpleasant and are almost certainly designed to kill something.

My momentary vision caught in the blink of an eye showed two strips of red ploughed field with a field containing the remnants of the final cutting of hay. The soil here and across much of the South Hams is a deep iron red, telling the tale both of its origins and its innate richness. The reds cushioning and embracing the middle strip of burnt umber seen through an air heavy with moisture and warmth was for that fleeting moment a taker of breath.

The weather has been quite extraordinary. For the last two weeks, pretty much, it has rained every day, pretty much. Some of those rains have been downpours: often quite short and sharp, but sometimes prolonged. The kind of rain that drums on the roof and the skylights, catching the solidity of buildings unaware. It’s been wet but warm, often quiet with relatively little wind. That has led to mornings full of mist, fog, and even a highly unusual thunderstorm that seemed to go on all night, never quite reaching us here by the sea. I spoke to someone living on Dartmoor who had the big cracks and rumbles around 3am and someone who lived near Torquay who had them around 5.30.  That’s a very slow-moving storm, a rarity in a country where a thunderstorm usually means one or two cracks of thunder and lightning as the storm races past, usually headed eastward. This one hung around for hours, lighting the sky and allowing us to hear thunder so remote that it didn’t seem to bear any relationship with the lightning we could see as lights in the cloud.

It’s raining now – pouring in fact. There is also a thunderstorm somewhere in the background although the noise of the rain is almost drowning it out. The radar map for today shows this continuing for another four hours: we are at the early fringes of what must be a massive stormfront that is moving slowly – very slowly it seems – eastward. Will we drown?



These images are from a windswept Kynance Cove on the Lizard almost at the very end of England. We were there last week and the wind was howling but like here it was still strangely warm.