From across the Atlantic, I’m helplessly, compulsively watching videos on the BBC and other news sites. It’s early February 2014, and an unusually powerful storm—in truth a sequence of fierce winter gales—has been raking the south coast of Devon, like a wave of marauding bombers. The storm has conspired with the moon and spring tides (nothing seasonal in the term—these “spring forth” each lunar month), to batter a path of old stone and brick known as the Goat Walk. The path runs south from the small town of Topsham and along the bank of the River Exe, a distinguishing feature here for generations. Gales surge again and again, driving wind and wave into the Goat Walk’s stone base, finally cracking and wrecking and all but sweeping it away. Great shards of broken pavement and collapsed foundation lay hulked in the mud. Even on my computer screen, I can make out where ancient fieldstones have been torn free of the iron-ribbed retaining wall behind what had been the path, leaving it eerily gap-toothed.