June Rain

Nasturtium leaves after a rain shower.

June is turning out to be quite a wet month so far. After a very dry April and May (actually it has been predominantly dry since the vernal equinox) we are on course to receive a month’s worth of rain – double the monthly average in some parts of the UK – within a few days. How very different to last year’s drought conditions which browned gardens and the surrounding landscape here in Wales. The rain, however, is very welcome and I’m not going to moan about it (well not too much 🙂 ).

Rain isn’t unusual for June – it is the month of the Glastonbury Festival after all – famous for its mud fests. As a past attendee of said festival, I recall weeks of nervously analysing weather charts and long-range forecasts to see whether this particular year was going to be a wash-out; it often was.

One particular year was brought to mind a few days ago: 2007. I think it may have started off dry but the rains came along accompanied by constant leaden skies. I discovered that just because dark grey clouds turn to very light grey doesn’t mean the rain gets any lighter. We took our bad weather kit: wellies; ponchos; and waterproof trousers so still got around the festival – which covers many miles of ground.

One particular day was incredibly wet – many people had decided not to bother venturing out, so in that way it was nice to have a lot of space to walk and look around (the organisers cram too many people in these days making it quite uncomfortable at times). We’d wandered off to one of the outer fields – the ‘green fields’ probably – and the rain turned very heavy. The only shelter was the Steiner School food tent. We decided to make a dash for it and were consequently crammed in with numerous other wet people queuing up for some basic comfort food, and tea in an assortment of old china cups. All the seats had been taken so we were left to stand jammed shoulder to armpit with everyone else – all facing outwards towards the wet field waiting for the heavy rain to subside.

Feeling very hot and claustrophobic, I could stand it no more and decided to don my partner’s spare oversized poncho and walk across to a picnic bench in the middle of the field with my plate of food underneath (I have a vague recollection that it was pizza …… something orange, anyway). There I sat alone for a loooooong time, head bowed, listening to the rain bounce off my nylon hood onto my knees and watching the drips run off at the bottom, feeling like the only contestant in a ‘spot the weirdo’ competition as the faces inside the marquee turned towards me.

A little while later a lone figure wandered over to check I was okay – a member of a band who was playing later that evening. I recall him saying that I looked noble sitting there – or something like that 🙂

It was rather a surreal experience. For a short time I had a field to myself in the middle of the Glastonbury Festival – albeit a wet one, and the recent wonderfully life-affirming smell of warm damp earth had brought the memory back quite vividly.