9 aprile 2009

Speedwell, chickweed, goosegrass

Speedwell, chickweed, goosegrass, deadnettle . . . I spent hours, or what seemed like hours, this afternoon weeding and hoeing the veg patch and seemed to get nowhere. I excavated the two very small gooseberry bushes and the two very small currant bushes, which were almost drowned in chickweed, and I salvaged what I could of the raspberry canes, ditto, and I attempted to hoe amongst the broad beans, but it’s a somewhat dispiriting task with the ground so hard (despite the rain) and the weeds so tenacious. And my tennis elbow so sore. And my back. And the little toe of my right foot, where Cass trod on me again last week.

. . . As I write, the house has just shaken again with another big earthquake. The death toll in Abruzzo has reached 280. The original big quake woke us up in the middle of the night, though we couldn’t tell how bad it was till the next morning when I turned on the news. Since then we’ve felt all the large aftershocks — 5.5, 5.3, 5.2 on the Richter scale — big, scary earthquakes in their own right, although our house is strong and we don't worry that it'll actually collapse. There’s no structural damage round here and certainly no lives lost, but everyone remembers the Assisi quake of 1997 and all the damage it did in this area — for the first few years we were here, the skyline of Camerino was defined by cranes rather than medieval towers, the town council was housed in the bus depot, and people were still living in containers. Now L’Aquila and the little surrounding villages will have to go through it all — all the
reckoning with the fear and the pain, the years of rebuilding and recovery. But first the burials and the mourning. And meanwhile the speedwell and the chickweed grow apace across the trembling earth.

2 aprile 2009

On Saturday night

On Saturday night we took part in Earth Hour, WWF’s turn-your-lights-off-for-the-planet worldwide symbolic gesture, at 8.30, eating supper by candle-light and playing Scrabble in the dark (candle-light is dark!). Watching Alessio light the tealights was terrifying. Who’d have thought it could be so hard to get the hang of matches?

That was also the night the clocks changed, and the evenings are now light till about 7.30, which is great. (The adverse effect of course is that it’s now back to being almost dark when we get up at 6.30a.m., which is not so nice.) With all the blossom and the wildflowers there’s a proper sense of spring now – or there was till a couple of days ago, when a cold depression blew in, and a cloud has been sitting on top of us ever since, and we're back to mist, rain and mud. We’ve turned most of the radiators off but I’m still wearing two pairs of socks.

Not so many cuckoos here, but we’ve spotted the First Hoopoe of Spring. Hoopoes migrate here for the summer and are stunning pink birds with black-and-white striped wings and a crest. They tend to return each year to nest in the same place, like swallows; no sign of them yet, but our resident pigeons are nesting in their holes in the outside walls of the house, and there's a great deal of small-bird activity, blue tits and finches flying about with twigs and moss in their beaks. The sun has to come out soon. . .