When you’re basking in the most wondrous spring warmth imaginable, and have been for weeks, it’s hard to say whether you feel more shocked or more hard done by when suddenly temps plummet into single figures for a few days.
“But I’d already done my cambio di stagione!” objected one peeved friend of mine who is more than old enough to know that April is a risky time to carry out this important ritual of putting your winter clothes away in some high cupboard so you don’t even have to think of cold and damp for many months, and replacing them in your wardrobe with joyous summer things.
Besides being warm we’ve also been stupidly dry. This weather average graph comes from something called climate-data.org. Heaven knows who they are or where their information comes from. There’s no date on the graph. The site doesn’t even say whether this is a 30-year average as one would expect. So unscientific. I hate that. But of course I do like things that reinforce my fears and prejudices (don’t we all?), and this one certainly does.
A December average of 73mm? (The rainfall is in the last line.) Nothing like that in our neck of the woods. We had 11.5mm. January was dry too, with 15mm instead of 58. February and March were nearer the average with 60.5mm and 55mm, most of it coming in huge single dumps rather than nicely-spread-out refreshing showers. But April? So far we’ve only had 17mm of the 64mm-odd that’s owed to us. Rain keeps appearing on the distant forecast, only to disappear as the day draws closer.
Even over the Easter weekend, when our town’s big fair inevitably gets washed out, the skies managed to be threatening without really dropping much water. (I mentioned to a friend the absurdity of having this major event year after year on a weekend when you know the heavens are going to open. But she – a guide, and an expert on local places and goings-on – said that we had no choice but to have it that day: no one else is allowed to have such jolliness on solemn Easter Sunday. We have had a special papal dispensation for this for… I can’t remember how long. So we have to use it, haven’t we?)
All this rather precipitation-obsessive chat to say, I’ve already started watering. I haven’t quite been able to bring myself/find the time to attach timers to my watering system. But I have been attaching the various parts to taps and running them every two or three days to keep my poor gasping plants alive. Far too early, if you ask me.
The iris are out; the wisteria on the kitchen pergola is really rather splendid seeing it’s not even two years old; the guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) is magnificent and so big that it’s threatening to engulf the old bitter cherry tree above it. And this year, we’ve even had lilac.
The superb lilac bush at the top of the slope just above the house fell victim to our builders, despite my threatening to chuck them out on their ears if anything happened to it. That was 2003-5. Since then, the main bush has looked tall and straggly, and the innumerable offshoots that pop up all around have been ungainly lumps of unprepossessing greenery, generally in the wrong place. This year though, they’ve all flowered wildly, their scent on the night air providing the perfect olfactory accompaniment to the nightingales who are already back and chortling their hearts out melodically.
My project? Ah. Easter got in the way. It was all rushing ahead at such a heartening pace. Then suddenly it wasn’t. It’s a big dipper of emotions.
My new fear is that at some point I subconsciously decided that the place will never be finished. But it will, suddenly, and I won’t have the things I need to fill it: lights, beds, sheets, furniture – that kind of thing. I did one great big push just after Christmas then let things slide. Not good. I need to shake myself up a bit.
I have one fabbro working away at metal bathroom units. And another hopefully producing the steps up to the mezzanine. Two different carpenters are vying for the job of flooring the mezzanine and making the treads for the steps (though oddly this competitive angle I decided to throw in there doesn’t seem to be resulting in lower prices: strange that). The showers are tiled and my builder is painstakingly filling up all the holes that he has – in some cases quite inexplicably – made in walls and floors. Equally inexplicably, the tiles are not back on the roof yet though he assures me that it’s all 100% waterproof up there, and he’d rather potter about inside so that painters and carpenters and the various other finisher-off-ers that I’ll need to involve can get to work. Hmmm