Monday, 24 August 2015

Risque d'Orage

Yet again the météo tells us that overnight there is a "risque d'orage" (chance of thunder storms) and even grêle (hail).

As I stroll with the dogs in the semi-dark I can see the flicker of lightning along the western horizon - too far away to hear any thunder. Vita walks unconcerned - nose down in the long grass at the verge of the narrow road.  If she looks skywards it's not in apprehension, but merely snuffing at the sharp wind blowing across the top of the maize.

Just in case, the Batmobile (with its vulnerable soft top) has been moved in under the roof of the wood store.

In hope more than expectation I have trailed the hose pipes across the garden yet again, down to the nearly empty water tank by the cottage. The pipes will carry any rain from the great sloping roof of the house - a roof which carries so much water in a downpour that the water butts are full and overflowing in minutes.  How much better to have that precious overflowing flood caught and conserved in the tank.

But I doubt it will be.  All evening I've been following on the internet thunderstorms up through northern Spain where, blocked by the Pyrenees, they turn west.  The small white points of each lightning strike crackle continuously through my computer's speakers.  I watched the first band of storms head out across the Bay of Biscay and I fear that the next will do the same, perhaps touching Bordeaux but not coming this far inland.

I wake at 2am - fooled by the sound of the wind rattling the bone-dry, bleached maize, thinking I am hearing pouring rain.  I stand on the lawn in the dark, my bare feet pricked by coarse toughened grass stalks.  Bertie whimpers at the door to be let out to join me, but I tell him there's no point and we go back to bed.

At 4am, Vita stands in the kitchen barking, making more noise than the distant thunder which has disturbed her.  One crash comes closer and this time the hissing noise is rain. It is over in ten minutes. And Vita returns contentedly to bed.

In ten weeks we have had no more than two day's rain.  The grass the following morning is barely damp.


Lightning strikes in real time