Over the past week the Britain has been battered by Storm Desmond, in the news I’ve seen images of flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire. There’s been videos posted of pensioners being rescued from upstairs windows by the fire service and seemingly stable roads crumbling away. And it reminds me of the storms we had here earlier in the year, where mountain roads overnight ceased to exist and the roads on the coast became flooded with sea water, silt and all other manner of debris.
Thankfully the weather here is better, the December days are bright and sunny and can be quite warm; although the locals don’t think so. I often get reproached for not wearing a coat, with warnings of being struck down with a dreadful influenza that’ll certainly kill me. The temperature drops in the evening and we then have the joy that is a wood burner. Yes, they need cleaning out every day, you have to contend with the smell of smoke and the dust they create would give many a clean freak apoplexy, but there’s that sense of satisfaction when it’s first lit and it starts to warm the room. Also there something joyous on an crisp evening of the sight of stone houses with trails of white wood smoke rising up from their chimneys.
Living in rural Italy can often be challenging, but is mostly for me rewarding. The fact that there’s only 10 properties in our hamlet, 3 are holiday homes, 3 are empty and with only 4 having permanent residents I understand that living here wouldn’t suit many people. But on a day like this it’s wonderful. A short walk along the lane can be breathtaking: The autumnal colours of the trees work so well with the traditional tiles and stone buildings that are dotted around the countryside. These abandoned properties blend well with the landscape and rather than give the area a depressed look they do their bit for the environment, they are perfect habitats for many of the critters that live here and last year one in our lane became the hibernation haven for two hedgehogs.
A walk along the lane this morning with the dogs more than makes up for the cold evening yesterday. The sun is warm and the sky is as blue without a single cloud to spoil it. Nature’s rich palette of colours are spread out before us as we stroll slowly with no sense of urgency; Alf sniffs every bush and leaves his calling card and Olive scans the ground for fallen walnuts which she cracks open and gobbles with gusto. Ahead of me she stops and investigates something in the middle of the road. I reach her and see that there’s a solitary apple sitting in the middle of the lane. Alf sniffs it and Olive looks up at me as if to say, “who left this apple here?”
A quick look to the right and I have solved the mystery. There’s evidence of chinghiale (wild boar), the vegetation is trampled and the pomegranate bush has been stripped of its over-ripe fruits and the apple tree has been pulled over. Alf gets wind of the night time interlopers and his nose goes into overdrive and he’s pulling me towards the undergrowth, Olive barks as she gets the scent of the boar and for a few minutes there’s two excited canines, one bewildered human and an apple in the lane.