I am not a swift and responsive blogger. I can only look on in uncomprehending amazement at those who can whack out a blog post within minutes. When it comes to writing that makes sense and has an attempted prettiness, I am in the slow camp.
I’ve been slowly tapping away at a blog piece provoked by Tracey’s fleeting mention of puddles. It was an experiment in leapfrogging from the particularity of my experience into socio-economic history. I wrote about puddles in all their soggy splashiness: the creeping ones that dribble into the drain in our farmyard; the muddy, mucky ones that soak my shoes when I run up on the moor. From puddles, I wound my slow way to the historical significance of water here in the Pennines.
I called this slow-forming post ‘The Social Life of Puddles’. It would have gone up here a week or so ago. Except, here in the Pennines we’ve been overtaken by water. Lots of it. Much more than many puddles.
It rains a lot here. Ordinarily we shrug and put our coats on. But lately it has been relentless. The mythical British summer has slummed off somewhere else and we’ve been left with rain, rain. It doesn’t go away, it comes again every day.
With the rain has come the floods.
And floods most certainly have a social life.
I don’t mean that floods do their hair, put their lippy on and head downtown (though they have lapped away in many a local pub). I mean that sociality flows thickly through and around floods. A flood in an uninhabited area affects an ecosystem; a flood in a populated area affects a social system. It becomes, in an alternative meaning of the phrase, a social event.
People talk. They traffic in information: what happened? where were you? There is helpful talk, overwhelmed talk, sympathetic talk. There is gossip and rumour, and accusations too (why blame the weather when you can blame the council?).
People do. They organise and mobilise. They haul out debris, rip up carpets and get handy with mops. They laugh, they cry and they rebuild.
Anthropologists talk and do as well. We also like to take notes, to sniff about, ask questions, look askance at ordinary things and to write (slowly) about it all. I don’t want to risk being swept away with my well-laid plans, but I have a thought to write a blog post or two about the social life of floods. I want to write about figurative sprites and imps, about contemporary weather magic and, somewhat more mundanely, why communities are plural.
Perhaps I will. And perhaps it will be posted here. But it might all be a slow process.