Friday, August 10, 2007

Vagaries of Wind and Water

It has been a wet summer. Dampened spirits invariably remark after a comment about the weather that “at least we don’t have flooding like those poor folks down south.” Last night on BBC, one of those poor folks from down south who has been flooded out of her home went to Bangladesh as a guest of Oxfam and discovered that for all the pain and expense of her own flood, her life looks like a luxury compared to theirs. Twenty million people who had very little to start with now have even less.

My heart does go out to all those poor souls, but my attention is distracted by the fact that the heavy rain outside is now dripping into a telltale puddle in the middle of the corridor that has been fixed twice. Worse yet, it is leaking through the newly installed lamp. I know this is nothing compared to the folks in the south or in Bangla Desh, but I don’t live in Bangla Desh; I live right here with the rain driving water into a place where it should not be. I put a bucket under the spot and set in motion the return of the workmen all the while reciting through gritted teeth: “the charm of an old house, the charm of an old house.”

I wrap my damp spirit into my long purple raincoat and serious, country living style rain hat for a ride into town. We drive past the field of barley that was a luscious golden-amber yesterday to discover that it now has splotches of green where the stems are showing. The golden heads of the grain that were all pointing into the sunlight have gone into tousles like ring curls on a little girl’s hair or micro crop circles from a band of psychotic aliens. Either way, it is not as pleasing as yesterday. It will make harvesting a bit harder, a bit slower, and maybe yield a little less. I know they’d love a crop like this in Bangla Desh; I try to console myself with that fact, but the rain just keeps coming.

We may never know how foot and mouth disease managed to spread from the presumed origin at the labs designed to protect us from disease, but both air and water are implicated in the most likely causes. A capricious wind either from the buildings or carried on the clothes of a scientist to a nearby allotment or an overfull sewage system swollen by flood waters has caused incalculable suffering and considerable financial loss.

The financial loss may be dealt with through compensation or increased prices, but I do not know how to deal with the loss of faith. I would certainly always have cried at the sight of a farmer in tears over the loss of his animals, but now I can taste his pain along with my own: a bolus of tears and fear and anger that knots itself into my stomach like a fist. Arguably, farming is always vulnerable to the vagaries of wind and water, but this virus and the unexplained breach of the safe keepers rides roughshod over the quiet acceptance of that vulnerablity.


At 3:02 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

I am so sorry. How bad was it? How many did you lose?

At 5:36 PM, Blogger muddyboots said...

yes l saw that program too, the woman came from Hull, she had been subject to abuse for speaking out about the flooding in bangladesh. down here, low lying wheat is dead where flooding took time to recede. f & m, where was the public enquiry from the last outbreak, virus from south africa did l hear someone say?

At 8:01 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

I am sorry the woman got criticised but these days it seems easier to find the somethings wrong than the somethings right.
South Africa? I have not heard that one. I think the contingency plan that they worked out after the last outbreak worked all in all pretty well and I think Debbie Reynolds did a good job standing up to a sometimes bullying media.
Now nif only we can get the all clear and get back to business.

At 8:04 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, ms piggy, none of our cattle have been touched because the infection is 700 miles away. The sad thing for those affected is that if one animal tests positive, then the whole herd is killed as a preventative. Some of the farms were just getting back on their feet after the outbreak of 2001, which as you know was before my time. The last farm whjere it was suspected was cleared and the tests came back negative in time so that the whole herd had not already been slaughtered.


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