If there is one thing that I have learnt about being married to a farmer, it’s that they are never, ever happy about the weather. Rain, shine or snow, it will always be doing the wrong thing at the wrong time of year.
Despite my difficulties in understanding this, I do know that spring is a particularly dangerous time for the orchard, especially when the flowers are starting to bloom. Too much rain and the bees can’t pollinate them, which means a smaller crop of apples. Dry weather however, will often harbour a cold spell when temperatures can drop below freezing. If this happens, the flowers are damaged and tend to fall off or turn into deformed apples. It is the apple growers’ nightmare.
When a particularly heavy frost threatens, my husband sets the alarm on the thermometer and goes to bed to wait for the cold to arrive, as it inevitably does just before day break. Once the temperature reaches zero there is a collective dash to all the orchards in the farming community to turn on the irrigation system and “water” the trees.
It is an imprecise science, but theory has it that when the water freezes around the flower, it insulates it and protects it from further drops in temperature.
When the sun comes up, the orchard is transformed into a glittering kingdom and I once remarked to my husband how beautiful it looked. But seeing his entire crop and year’s work enshrouded in a several tons of ice inspired a comment that made me think that he doesn’t quite share my idea of beauty. Or what good weather should be.