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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Assessing the Damage

Just to keep livening up the blog, here another archive photo: a view from our window in November.

The rain I mentioned last time has continued and reached it's climax on Christmas Eve, when it was also accompanied by gale force winds, the dreaded Scirocco. I have mentioned this wind before on this blog, because it has so much influence on our weather. It allegedly originates in Africa, in the Sahara desert to be precise and then blows in a North-westerly direction (i.e. it's a South-easterly wind, as winds are named after the direction they come from for some reason).

Now you would think, that a wind coming out of the desert is good news, dry and warm, however you'd have thought wrong. En route to Italy it crosses the Mediterranean, where it has plenty of oportunity to pick up a bit of water. Then as this warm wind travels north it hits the cold air mass coming off the Alps and the Appenines. A great time to shed some of that excess water again. In other words, in our little niche in the Northwest of Italy it doesn't rain very often, but when it does, the Scirocco is usually involved.

To compound the problem, all our windows are south-east facing, and our bedroom window in particular is leaking. Although I did squeeze an entire tube of silicon into various cracks and openings in an attempt to solve the problem, new cracks and hidden holes appeared elsewhere. The net result of all this was that I stayed up Christmas Eve, or rather Christmas morning until half past one, continually mopping the floor! On one occasion, I swear I saw Santa on his sleigh sailing past us and he never made it down our chimney as he got blown on by the wind. Rudolph's nose was Blue! I'm not sure if it was due to the cold or due to prolonged exposure to water.

Anyway, Christmas passed peacefully, as usual with plenty of food and sitting around a blazing fire. What, you want to know what we've been eating? You're a nosy lot aren't you? Ok, we started with bruschette with a chilli paste and with an olive and bean paté, followed by Zuppa Lombarda (consisting of sage, garlic and beans). Then I made up a new recipe: sage and onion stuffed ravioli tossed in olive oil and lemon juice. For main course we had a free-range capon (a castrated cocckerel) stuffed with a chestnut stuffing (which we made during the chestnut season and had put into the freezer), accompanied by rosemary roast potatoes and a Neapolitan style cauliflower salad.

Right, enough of that flippancy. Boxing Day the rain held off for long enough for us to dare a trip to our plot of land to see what damage the snow and the storms did. I'm glad to report that most things seemed fine. The first sowing of broad beans was a little damaged by the wind as they were already quite tall. Peas, fennel, celery, the brassica, onions and garlic all withstood the cold. Only our baby lemon tree looks like it got some serious frost damage. I hadn't covered it this winter, because we never had any frost the last few winters, and if than never this early (more like February or even March). The kumquat looks fine though and might just give us fruit for the first time this winter.

The wind caused a bit more damage than the frost. It blew over a slightly fragile olive tree and broke off numerous branches of other fruit trees, most notably the loquat and a couple of the plum trees. Well, all in all it could have been worse and the days are starting to get longer again, so roll on spring...


Tessa said...

What an utterly delicious sounding Christmas feast! Just reading about it made me hungry....yummmmm!

Thank you so much for stopping by my place and for the your Christmas wishes. I do hope you're having a most wonderful holiday season despite the crazy weather - glad to hear some of your crops survived! Sending you lots of love for now and for the fast approaching New Year.

Tessa xx

Mr. H. said...

Your weather sounds like it was a bit miserable, I have always disliked rainy windstorms the most.

I'm glad to hear that your plants are, for the most part, still in tact. We must run a rope grid along and in between our fava beans otherwise they always fall over during late spring and summer wind storms.

Your meal sounds divine, I thought I smelled something good wafting in on a breeze the other day.:)

Ayak said...

We've also had gale force winds and rain here and I am so grateful that none of my windows leak...I have experienced this in other homes and it's no fun is it?

Your Christmas dinner sounds wonderful.

I've mentioned it before but I'll just say it again..I love the humour in your posts..you always bring a smile to my face.

Happy New Year!

Ruralrose said...

Sounds like you dodged a bullet here, no?! Thanks for sharing your story it is very compelling reading. Glad to hear you didn't fare any worse than you did. We have had almost no weather here to speak of. Peace for all

Ruralrose said...

p.s. droooooling so badly now after reading your feast!!

chaiselongue said...

Your Christmas lunch sounds wonderful - all those lovely Italian flavours! You didn't need to cycle over here to share ours after all!

Sorry Santa blew over your chimney, but with that view you don't really deserve presents as well... once the rain has cleared. We have the same kind of southerly wind here, although it's called the marin (the sea), and that's the one that brings rain. Sometimes it brings sand from the desert too! The dry wind here is from the north, over the land, the rain having fallen over the mountains.

CJ said...

I first read of sirocco in Paulo Coehelo's book the Alchemist.

Hope you had a merry christmas.have a great New Year!

Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog :)

Angela said...

So no presents this year? AND damaged little trees, and water in the house? Some people would have complained. I`m glad you can still smile!
I also am a great fan of Terry Pratchett! Brother!
Your fairy comment was funny.