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(OT) Curses! It's SPRING!

Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

February used not to be like this. For years after we moved to Italy February was winter: cold, dark, drizzly, chill, with heavy snowfalls and, often, the coldest temperatures of the year. It was a world running with water: the trees and shrubs dripping, the clay soil sodden. It was a trying month. But you could feel the days lengthening, and, toward the end of the month, see the first signs of spring in the blooming of the sweet violets, the first flowers of the coming season.

Not any more. The temperature hasn't fallen below freezing all this month, and it's warm during the day, definitely not sweater weather. It's dry, a droughty month following a droughty winter, not that we've actually had a winter, and a droughty fall and summer before that. I think this is the fourth year of well below average annual rainfall. The air is stagnant and hazy with pollution, though thank goodness not as bad as down in the plain.

How the plants are reacting is variable, depending, I suppose, on what triggers their growth and bloom. The warm climate roses are setting buds and starting to flower: 'Sanguinea', which has always led the way, is in the early stages of a spectacular flowering; the others are all following. (Back before climate change, 'Sanguinea' opened its first blooms at the end of April.) The sweet violets are flowering, not much earlier than usual; the snow crocuses are in full bloom, early; the early daffodils are blooming ahead of schedule. By the way, I've been thinking of writing this post for a week or two.

Well, this is climate change, the effects of our collective actions of all my life--I'm in my sixties--and of the decades and centuries before me, though I think my lifetime has seen much of the damage done, just because of the growing human population and the withering effects of grossly exaggerated consumption. My sense of recent changes is that we have fallen off the cliff, but not hit the ground yet; and when we do, it will be bad.

So what am I doing about this? As one unpowerful individual, I can't do much. I plant: trees, shrubs, subshrubs, perennials; and I keep feeding our poor ground with all the organic material I can find. At least there's ample room for improvement here. I intend to continue to plant, finding the varieties best suited to survive and flourish in the new conditions, looking southward for them. I suspect that in a few decades we may become what southern Italy used to be--a lot of people are planting olives these days, though they've always had a minor presence--while southern Italy itself starts to resemble Algeria. Changes ahead, folks.

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