The Forty First Day

George Frederic Watts exhibited a painting in 1886 under the title The Sun and after some work re-exhibited it in 1891 as After the Deluge. It was also known as The Forty First Day as it was to depict the scene which greeted Noah when he opened a window on the Ark to check on the weather after the forty days of flood. Today felt like that forty first day and, true to form, the sun shone brilliantly.

A pair of Robinia pseudoacacia in sunshine and in a blue sky on this forty first day.

All grumblings of a dry summer and autumn were effectively submerged this week under downpour after downpour, interspersed with periods of heavy rain. Met Éireann, our meteorological service, issued a Yellow Warning midweek and shortly afterwards added to our trepidation by raising it to an Orange Warning – more rain, stronger winds, danger of flooding etc.

Hardly a deluge, I suppose, but the place was saturated, squelchy underfoot, and there were puddles everywhere, a bit of a washout. It will be a while before we can get back to any work in the garden.

The ground is absolutely saturated but there wasn’t any damage done so it is of no consequence; it is simply part of our normal weather pattern, an undeniable turn of the seasons and it did present some pleasant images: Fallen leaves from Ironwood (Parrotia persica), haws from Crataegus prunifolius, a sodden penstemon and a very sad pheasant – pheasants really dislike rain! (Her spirits were raised by a helping of rolled barley and peanuts)

Finally the forty first day arrived and it was an absolutely beautiful day, all the more enjoyed for its contrast to the weather of the past week.

After the Flood (Aprés le Déluge)

    Just as the idea of the Flood went subsiding,
    A hare stopped in the swaying clover and flower bells, and said its prayer to the rainbow, through the spider’s web.
    Oh! The precious stones that hid themselves, —the flowers that already were watching.
    In the dirty main street, the stalls rose, and some hauled the boats to the sea piled up as on engravings,
    Blood flowed, at Blue Beard’s, —in the slaughterhouses, in circuses, and where the seal of God white-washed the windows. Blood and milk flowed.
    The beavers built. “Mazagrans” smoked in the coffee bars.
    In the big house of glass still dripping, the mourning children looked on the wondrous pictures.
    A door slammed; and, on the square of the hamlet, the child waved his arms, understood by the wind vanes and the cocks on steeples everywhere, in the bursting shower.
    Madame *** set up a piano in the Alps. Mass and first communions were celebrated at the hundred thousand altars of the cathedral.
    The caravans took off. And Hotel Splendor was built in the chaos of ices and polar night.
    And from then on, the moon heard jackals howling through the deserts of thyme, —and the sabot-clad eclogues growling in the orchard. And, in the violet woods, Eucharis told me it was Spring.
    Gush, pond; —Foam, roll on the bridge and over the woods; —black palls and organs, lightning and thunder, rise and roll; —waters and sorrows, rise and unleash the Floods.
    For since they’ve gone, —oh, the burrowing stones, and the blooming flowers!—the boredom! And the Queen, the Witch who lights her blaze in the earthen pot, won’t ever want to tell us what she knows, that which we do not.

– Arthur Rimbaud,
tr. Alex Rodallec


3 thoughts on “The Forty First Day

  1. I love the way your trees cast their long shadows at this time of year, even if the garden is soggy underfoot. Does it rain well or does the presence of the river mean you have a high water table? You could plant watercress if you have a spot that is permanently damp.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our garden gets very wet over the winter. It is at the bottom of the slope down to the river so everything runs down to us. On the plus side, it dries up well in spring because there is a bed of gravel below us – a long way down but it seems to help.

      Liked by 1 person

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