Happy rainy days

news: Happy rainy days

Monday October 10

Until you have lived in a country with long, dry summers, you can never fully appreciate the absolute joy and elation of autumn rain – the smell, the sound, the sensation … The need to breathe it in, to feel it on the skin becomes all encompassing.

The day the rain arrives is the one day of the year when even the most cynical, world weary pessimists crack a smile to say how good it is to see the rain. This year, there was no dramatic ending to summer, no thunderous farewell, no crashing skies. Knowing how parched the soil was, Nature took care to deliver the rain in small light bursts, allowing the soil to adjust slowly to this new phenomenon. The first real rain arrived early on Sunday and has been falling on and off ever since, gradually increasing in intensity.

Tuesday October 11

Today’s rain has been sporadically torrential, the kind of rain which catches you unawares and has people laughing in bus shelters.

A leaky roof, a drenched driver’s seat, power cuts, dodgy outdoor electrics, faulty electric fence, a buoyant tool box, floating pig terrace … the list goes on. The piglets were quick to suss out that the bright orange wire had stopped biting and were soon rampaging all over the farm enjoying their new freedom. Repair jobs had to be made immediately, so I spent most of the day standing in torrential rain repairing gates and fences and holding my breath as I pushed in plugs and waited to be electrocuted. Everything is now up and running again and we are remembering to close windows and put all our vulnerable ones under shelter at night.

Last night, most of Monchique was on hurricane alert, chiefly due to the actions of Martyn, who phoned everyone he knew in a New Orleans inspired frenzy. During a brief interlude in Telenovelas, the TV news came on and reported on Hurricane Vincent swirling across the Azores and heading for the Algarve. Fortunately, it ran out of steam and changed direction, but, by then, the damage was done. Most of our friends were sorting out their insurance policies and battening down their rabbit hutches.

Tuesday October 18

Today’s rain was soft and gentle, the kind that refreshes the soul and cools the skin. The bright new growth of the winter grass now covers the hills, a delicate haze of vivid green, washing from memory the dusty dryness of summer. Previously forlorn brassicas now grow with unseemly vigour and overlooked potatoes have re-sprouted, already standing a foot tall.

Autumn here brings with it the same hope and optimism of spring, a clean freshness and the assurance that comes with new life. Long forgotten bulbs are already slicing their way up through loosened soil, ants are manically rebuilding their nests and the oranges are taking on the colour they have given their name to. The longer I live in the Portuguese countryside, the less sure I become about which time of year I love the most.

Wednesday October 26

Today’s rain was the drizzling misty kind that seems to penetrate your clothing while you’re not looking. The sky has now taken on the role of prison officer, keeping one banged up inside the house for ever increasing periods of time. If you need to sort out anything official, now is the time to do it. Banks, Finanças, Registos and Freguesias, all stand empty as a nation stares out of the window wondering if it will ever stop raining – at least that is how it is up here.

Despite this, I am still overjoyed with the rain, although I increasingly appreciate the need to keep this opinion to myself. After a few days of liberated freedom, I am now firmly back in the closet, only daring to discuss my rain love when I am certain someone is of a similar persuasion.

Thursday October 27

Today’s rain was horrifically hammering, the kind that could begin suddenly and set the ground dancing. By 11 o‘clock, the animals had still not been fed when the swirling grey clouds parted slightly to give the merest glimmer of watery sunshine. Seizing the opportunity, I threw on the wellies, grabbed the pig buckets and made my way down.

The four remaining piglets, who now live their lives camouflaged in a coating of mud hoping to avoid the roasting tin, flocked around me and began eating ferociously as only pigs can. It was as I left them to step over the electric fence to deliver the food to their mother Eggs that showtime really began.

As I placed my foot across the fence, I felt a strange, eerie sensation … the earth beneath began to suck me in. Transfixed, I froze and watched helplessly as my foot succumbed to the curious force beneath, pulling me deeper and deeper into the mud.

My bewilderment and inexplicable immobility served to irritate Eggs, already fractious with hunger. The impatient pig began nudging me violently just as a cloud burst unexpectedly, releasing a year’s rain in one second. I felt a curious out of body experience, as if I were above, looking down at myself, soaked to the skin, being nudged by a pig with a live electric wire two inches from my testicles. This sight seemed to jolt me somewhat and, from somewhere, I got the strength to hoist out my leg, pole vault the wire, and deliver the bucket intact.

Saturday October 29

Last night’s rain was the driving, lashing kind that gets caught in the wind and finds its way through loose tiles and tiny cracks in the wall.

This morning, the sun was shining. At 8.30am, Martyn leapt out of bed, energised and enthused by the long awaited sunshine. By 9.30am, he was looking like a man on the edge, liberally sprinkling his cornflakes with Librium.

His exit from the house was halted by the realisation that a ditch had burst and the rain had taken our road down one terrace, demolishing the fencing to the chicken field and causing turkeys, ducks and geese to wander about unhindered. This post-traumatic hypnotic state was broken by the ringing telephone. At the other end was Wales.

In a tone only usually heard within the walls of a high security asylum, his mother screeched over the news that he had a LETTER! A credit card company were pursuing him for 3,000 pounds and he only had a week to pay. “So what are you going to do then?” Controlling his shaking hands, Martyn was rattling through some old bills to call the stolen cards section, when a deep, pained, moaning sound echoed in waves from somewhere in the house. After ascertaining his mother was not still on speaker-phone, a search of the house located the noise to the tumble dryer in the bathroom – it had seized up!

Outside, a clap of thunder was followed by more rain, the teeming, penetrating kind that means the washing line will be out of use for the foreseeable future.