After The Rain

After the rain, debris. Yesterday saw some freakishly heavy rain around these parts. Today, out riding, the rubbish on the roads is the consequence to consider. I’m not talking about major stuff; it’s the run-off that’s the issue – grit and gravel, which is the stuff of punctures. Small flints can be very sharp. Fortunately, today’s ride was puncture free but I’m sure that was pure good fortune.

I did read somewhere that one of the tyre manufacturers had researched into punctures and found a lot of back tyre flats were caused by grit or whatever flicked up in the first instance by the front tyre. I can’t vouch for that but it might be true. I do have some faith in holding the (leather-glove-clad) palm of my hand on my front tyre for a few revolutions if I go through a patch of gravel to clean it off before anything gets embedded and can cut through to the inner tube. I’m also quick to respond if I hear that tell-tale ‘tick tick tick’ of something stuck in a tyre. Stop, find it and dig it out quickly before it does any damage. I carry a very small but sharply pointed pen-knife for that very reason.

Up near Woodcote today I noticed a small metal cover in the road, broken, with grass growing up through it. This was on a busy road, not a little-used lane. There’s just enough shelter in the dip it’s in and in the hole in the cover for the grass to survive despite all the traffic. It’s salutary to be reminded about the sheer remorselessness of nature, that blind and completely unsentimental will to live that informs so much of what’s around us.

There’s something to think about in how we, people, seem to need so much sentimentality to rise above nature, but sentimentality itself is rarely held up as a laudable quality. I don’t know – it’s something to return to.

Just a few yards on from the grass in the road I saw a Red Kite land in a tree and nearly fall off, having picked a branch that wasn’t able to take its weight. Cue frenzied flapping. Nature may be remorseless but that’s not the same as infallible. That I’m commenting on a clumsy Red Kite is, I think, a reflection of how we’ve become: in incredibly broad and sweeping brush strokes, it seems we’ve lost faith in science and in ourselves and, instead, impart ‘nature’ with properties that just aren’t there – that it’s somehow inherently ‘good’ and ‘infallible’ and ‘right’ and ‘honest’.