Glass Half Empty



It is, I think, one of the unacknowledged small pleasures of rural life: going down to the river to see where the water level is at the ford (see also: checking out the height of the waves crashing over the sea wall). If you don’t have a ford, any river level will do, particularly if it’s prone to flooding rich people’s houses,* but fords are best.

There’s a touch of the Charlie Browns about it, but the fact is, there’s not much other consolation to having day after day of rain than the prospect of a little light flooding as long as that flooding is happening somewhere else. And when the rain stops – or even if it hasn’t – you can walk down and go and see what the score is. We’ve even had a little sweepstake going – guessing what the level will be as we round the final corner, with the winner being the closest. So far we’ve not done much better than just under a foot, but it is high summer – not so long ago this spot was as dry as a bone.

I thought, to be honest, that this was just us but I bumped into a local guy out on my walk today and we got to talking about the ford, its highs (two feet, and still drivable, since you ask) and its lows. ‘It’s a funny thing,’ he said, completely unprompted, ‘but when it’s tipping down for day after day, you at least get this thought at the back of your mind: I wonder what the level of the ford is. And then when it stops, you can go down and see.’

*when we lived in Maidenhead this was in fact the primary winter entertainment. We had to make our own fun in those days.**


10 Responses to Glass Half Empty

  1. Helen says:

    We always go and count how many bricks are visible on our local bridge.
    It is exciting when the water reaches the buttresses, as it did a couple of days ago – about 7 feet we guess.

  2. nikkipolani says:

    I suppose the equivalent in our dry dry dryness is to check how high the wildfire alert is – though not nearly as restful as checking your ford 🙂

  3. disgruntled says:

    Helen – I think you guys got more rain than we did for once this week – although we’re now up to 2 feet at the ford
    Nikki – rather less restful if your house is in the floodplain, probably – but fortunately we’re well up the hill

  4. wakeupscared says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who does that sort of thing 🙂 although in my case it’s checking the water level against the side of the local canal/river that runs alongside it; although, back when we had severe rain the other year there was some flooding of the fields that lined the side of the canal.

  5. Huttonian says:

    you can see that in these parts floods are not half hearted-find a water gauge and the river will cover it

  6. disgruntled says:

    I think that six foot mark is a bit optimistic, tbh. Still, something to aim for

  7. […] the chance to go and see whether there were dipper at the waterfall, our principal pastime when checking the level of water in the ford has got old (see also: looking to see if the cottage that sells eggs has any eggs). The evening […]

  8. […] After all, we had important business to do – checking the level of the ford […]

  9. […] has drained, the wood is no soggier than it was before and we can go back to wondering about the level in the ford. Hmmm. I wonder what it has reached […]

  10. […] of the entire county. So when the rain did finally stop after lunch today, there was really only one thing we could do. Or rather, two. Because having wellied up, we first had to go and clear out the drains […]

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