Sunday, 13 March 2016

Time Travel

I came across this limonate kiosk in Trastevere yesterday and concluded that it must belong to the Italian Timelord, Dottore Chi. It seemed fitting that he would travel the universe in a lemonade stall rather than some stuffy old police box. I guess the winsome giovane donna on the right must be his 'assistant'.

We've been doing a bit of time travel ourselves lately. In fact, we have been experiencing strange shifts in the time space continuum ever since we left England in late September. As we drove south from Oxford through the Thames valley the beech trees were beginning to turn. Although it had been warm enough to have a coffee on the Ashmolean rooftop terrace in the afternoon, by evening no one was sitting outside the riverside pubs in Wallingford. There was a palpable autumnal chill in the air. As we drove slowly south, through Lorraine, then Switzerland, past Maggiore, onwards through Marche and Puglia, across the Ionian Sea to the Peloponnese, time stood still. Autumn followed us the whole way like a Keatsian stalker. Even in early December, the south of Sicily managed a 'mellow fruitfulness'. Though hardly 'misty', when I took my last swim of the year, the light was golden and soft; but as you might anticipate, the sea was not exactly warm, though it was not so bone chillingly cold as to require a tri-suit. Only a couple of weeks before the festive season and we still seemed trapped in an everlasting autumn.

December and January were spent in the cold and very rainy Pennines. We were subjected to instant English winter and it felt miserable. By the time we returned to Sicily the locals at least were convinced that the season had changed. Out came their pneumatic black quilted jackets. Beneath hats - leather rimmed homburgs or black knitted beanies -  dark eyes peered over a swathe of scarves wound with Baroque exuberance to keep out the dreaded wintry draughts.

However, though the calendar asserted it was February 3rd, neither the weather, nor this couple of migratory Brits could find any sign of winter whatsoever. Yellow sorrel sprang into life in the hedge rows, pale mauve almond blossom covered the hillsides around Agrigento, the sky was blue and some days the temperature edged towards the high teens. To those used to seek signs of early spring in a few paltry catkins or the odd courageous snowdrop, no way could this flowery outburst be consider as winter. So just as Autumn had stalked our outbound journey, so Spring attempted to accompany us homewards, deasil around Sicily then north into Calabria. In early February almond trees had blossomed in Agrigento. A month later, splurges of puce brightened the hillsides north of Corigliano Calabro as cherry orchards bloomed. As we journeyed north Spring simply kept up.. Time slowed almost to a standstill.

Few days ago as we reached Campagna, normality returned. The trees in the Cilento had not yet come into leaf, the autostrada snaked through snow-capped mountains and the rain turned to sleet. Now in Rome, the buds are just bursting forth and the trees are full of birds busily nest building. Though the changing season may be a few weeks ahead of England, nevertheless the pattern seems familiar. No longer can we out-fox time, Here and now has reverted to the deciduous.

February - Capo S. Vito

Almond blossom - Agrigento

Mid March, little signs of Spring in the Cilento
Storm clouds over Capri
Bare trees line the Tiber
The first signs of spring in Camping Flaminio

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