Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Comfort Sewing

 It is raining. 
 It has been endless rain this Winter, the river in the valley is higher than I have seen it in the forty years I have lived here, the town is starting to flood and springs are appearing all over the place around the river. When our little town needed to grow it spread up the hill away from the river. There was a very good reason for this, all the land that didn't flood in the Winter down nearer the river had been built on. In the 60s and 70s planning laws relaxed and people thought they could hold back floods by pumping water away and anyway, there hadn't been much flooding lately....all the elderly people I knew when I first moved here cautioned me that when I did buy myself a house I should not, under any circumstances be tempted to buy a house built after about 1960, especially those built on the old water meadows that estate agents described as being on the 'favoured Western side of town". The West side of town was favoured as it was a bit more hilly and didn't flood quite as much as the East, except for the water meadows. One lady I knew who was a girl in the 19th century recalled living in a house by the river, built on a little ridge of land that would be surrounded by water most Winters. In November they would move upstairs and not move downstairs until the Winter rains were gone, she said that she couldn't wait to move out and into a dry house in the town. All the older houses near the river used to have little rowing boats- not for fun, but for getting around in the Winter months. All this seems to have been forgotten in the rush for - now- expensive riverside homes.
 The water meadows featured a couple of large ponds/small lakes that the old gentlemen who lived in my street recalled fishing in and courting beside in their youth. Both clear to see when you look at a contour map of the area and both now pumped out and built on- surprise, surprise those houses built in the dips that were the ponds flood most years, the water just bubbles up from beneath. The rest of the meadows have springs that appear whenever the water table gets high enough. When the river got high enough it would spread across the meadows too. You can guess how it is after a couple of months of endless torrential rain... there was a drainage canal that went down to the river, but it has been filled in, the meadows where the water could spread out have gone- the water is forced along streets and into homes, pouring into any vulnerable spot. Water will always find a way.
 Building on floodplain. How on earth did anyone come to think that was a good idea? Greed does strange things to our intelligence.
 But ghastly weather means that comfort food and comfort sewing are in order, so I am enjoying continuing with my wool panels and here is my version of an olive branch design adapted from a Greek pot I saw in the Metropolitain Museum last year-  simple, satisfying and helping to distract me from the serious storm I can hear starting up outside.

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