One of the things we were looking forward to when we moved here was to experience the seasons. We’ve been coming to Italy for 25 years, so we’ve seen snippets of every season, but to witness the changes crosses a threshold between visiting and living. We got here in July, in the dead of summer. It was hot and the days were long. We moved into fall and saw crisper days and chilly nights and days that shortened. Now we’re halfway through winter with its short, windy days and those long cold, winter nights. Spring is still a promise away and I will welcome being able to live outside again. But for now, we’re making friends with winter and all its mysteries.
Blowing in the Wind
The wind here is something else. The locals tell us that the worst winds are during the change of seasons. It’s as if Mother Nature refuses to let go of one season to usher in another. There’s a violent struggle between warm and cool and the wind acts as the referee. Many days look beautiful out and we open the door only to slam it back again once the wind tears through us. It’s a cold, hard wind that you think you can handle, but you can’t. It brings tears to your eyes and takes your breath away. It randomly shows up for a day or two just when you think maybe it’s gone. What is a wonderful breeze in the summer (remember the venticello?) turns into an invisible monster in the winter. As Steve says, it’s brutal.
The Dark Side
Before the winter solstice, it got dark here around 4:30. That’s early. By 7:30 you’re ready for bed. We’ve seen gradual increases in those precious daylight hours since December 21 and we’re so grateful for it. On clear days, it’s getting close to 5:00 before darkness descends upon us. In the glory days of summer, it was light out until after 9:00. This early darkness takes some getting used to. I’m not there yet. Remember, most places close here between roughly 1:00 and 4:00. So things are just getting hopping again when it’s getting dark. If you wait until the afternoon to run your errands, you’re doing it in the dark. The one good thing about this was during Christmas. We could go look at the lights and decorations somewhere and be home in time for happy hour. Now that that joy has been taken away, we’re back to planning our days so that we manage our daylight to the fullest.
In a Fog
I’ve never seen anything like the fog we get here. It is truly a thing of wonder. Some mornings we awake to a view from our terrace that is completely encased in haze. We were walking once in the valley and the fog started rolling in around us. You could see it, feel it, overtaking you like some kind of specter. Someone told us recently that it didn’t used to be this way. Years ago they built a dam and created a big lake in the valley and that made the fog worse. Whatever the reason, it is as much a part of the landscape here as the Apennines. I rather like the fog on occasion. It encourages you to be reflective and introspective. It makes you think. And I love walking through the medieval part of town at night in the fog. I feel like I should be wearing a black cape pulled across my face and saying things like “Beware”.
The Wonder of Snow
I’m a southern girl. I’ve seen snow, but in small quantities. I’ve been out west and seen great quantities of snow on the ground, but I’ve never experienced the snow we had yesterday. It started about 7:00 in the morning and snowed pretty much all day. Big, fluffy, beautiful flakes. At times it was so heavy that you couldn’t see across the street. I now know what white out conditions are. I’ve heard this term when they talk about huge storms in the northeast, but never really gave it much thought. This was pure snow with no icy sub-layer. That’s what I’m used to. Black ice – now there’s a term I’m familiar with. This was the stuff that songs are written about. It was magical and enchanting and breathtakingly beautiful. You could walk in it without fearing you’d slip and break a limb. It crunched under your feet and you could feel it packing down with each step. I kept looking out the window in awe that it was still coming. We probably got about five inches over the course of the day.
I’m not sure how common this is here. Up in the mountains, yes. They’ve been snow capped many times this winter. But down here I don’t think it’s a routine occurrence. Whether it’s common or not, they were prepared. This was on Sunday and the snow plows ran all day keeping the streets clear. They even came down our little street a time or two. Most businesses are closed on Sundays so it was tough to tell if it affected commerce, but just like in the US, kids were out and loving it. Snowmen were everywhere and sled tracks decorated the hillsides. We got a little more overnight, but the temperatures rose and it’s starting to melt. But yesterday, it was a winter wonderland.
It was the perfect day to be inside creating cozy comfort food. I made a big pot of ribollita, a pot of orange cauliflower soup, and a slow-simmered bolognese for tonight’s lasagna. I’d cook a little, watch the snow a little, run outside a little, and sit by the fire a little. A true winter nesting day which provided us with several meals for the week.
And the Cycle Repeats
This morning the snowy skies were replaced with the vicious wind. We heard it rumbling past our windows before we even got out of bed. It’s withered a lot of the snow and blown it off all the trees. And we brace ourselves when we have to go out and know that somewhere in the heavens a plan is being devised to bring us our next weather adventure.