Whatever the President of the USA states, whilst writing at my kitchen window of spring in a gay guest house, I see daily evidence of global warming. The snow used to come deep and long. The river Chiascio which runs below us in the valley below would burst its banks in my first few autumns here in Umbria. Winters were always grey, damp and somewhat Scottish. More recently winters are milder. Noticeably so. A few years ago we ate Christmas lunch outside on the sunny terrace. Snow is rarer and rainfall more scarce and the plants just do not know what to do. I fear for the future of agriculture. There is no longer any logic to the weather.
When replying to enquiries for bookings the one question I dread is that of the weather; “We are thinking of coming in June, what will the weather be like?” “Will it be sunny and dry in September?” I honestly have no idea, and feel feeble not to be able to predict the weather with accuracy. All I know is every day brings another joy, and more often than not they are stunning. I wake to splendid sunrises. As the sun rises over the Apennines golden rays burst forth over the still sleeping countryside.
The light mist in the valley so well known to our guests slowly follows the winding river and soon vanishes. I have been busy with maintenance. Guys think that I spend the winter and spring hibernating. Ok, I do do some hibernation, but I also spend a great deal of time with maintenance and working in the garden. My days are full. Autumn brings cascades of leaves, I rake fervently. Dragging never-endingly tall piles to the compost heap.
I plan in advance my tasks for the days, but make the final decision when I wake. The past week has been warm, even hot. I was varnishing doors wearing only a ‘t’ shirt, or less. This morning it is decidedly cool, hence I am sitting at my computer and speaking to you. The weather is totally unpredictable, one day hot, the next cold. It is maddening.
Nonetheless joy is brought to me in spring in a gay guest house. The garden comes alive. Each day yet another plant breaks tenderly through the soil. Long flowering are the primroses and delicate violets. Several weeks early this year. The tulips and the Muscari grape hyacinths are filling the pots on the terrace and fruit trees are in delicious full bloom;
Almond blossom is one of the first fruit blossoms to show. It is followed this week by the Apricots. The many gnarled branches of the old Apricot trees are covered in light delicate blossom. So photogenic against the azure skies.
It looks promising for a good jam making year 🙂
I have been busy in the Orto and two rows of potatoes are planted. It is hard manual labour. No need for me to go to the gym! I do want to plant some more, and am saving up the energy to do so.
Leaves are netted out of the pool. In the bright crisp spring sunlight it looks so Hockneyesque.
Yesterday I was busy varnishing doors. The silence punctuated by birdsong which was disturbed by the frenetic buzzing of insects. Honey bees, Bumble bees, Carpenter bees, tiny hover moths (yes, really early) and the odd butterfly were feeding greedily on the nectar of the Rosemary bushes and fruit trees.
I take time for a breather and snap the view from the garden over the Photinia hedge to the Apennines. Their peaks may be recently lightly dusted with snow, but as you can see the fields and woodland are still very brown and dry.
So my days are full. Late afternoon ‘Hear’ my rescue dog is looking for a walk. I don my coat. She jumps for joy as I try to put on her collar. We laugh and share the enthusiasm as we head off along the track into the quiet countryside. Whilst watching Hear sniffing out things to chase, and darting through the bushes, I look to see if the wild asparagus is yet showing. The walk is, for me also a time of contemplation. I stare across the valley to the pretty village of Colaplombo bathed in the fading spring sun.
As we head home the sky changes, dusk is falling. Bellaugello has a commanding south facing view over the Chiascio valley. We are ringed by distant hills, and whilst we do not get the sunsets beaming down on the house, they are very much in evidence. The sky just above the hills turns yellow, golden, ochre, ruddy, it is magical. As we near home the red rises and intensifies. It is splashed dramatically over the weak grey blue sky. I can see where the great Burri got his inspiration.
Nature and wildlife is truly wonderful and delicate. Us humans must quickly respect it more.