Friday, September 10, 2010

It's all over for another year

Here in Greece the last weekend of August marks the end of summer. On
the following Monday car parks in seaside resorts which had
for weeks past been packed with visitors' cars quite suddenly revert to dusty patches of land and and harbours where elegant yachts, had moored cheek by jowl with local fishing boats, revert to being sheltered sweeps of deep blue sea, their purpose marked in
the case of the car parks by just a few locals' vehicles and in the
harbours by a handful of fishing boats.
As if responding to this exodus the weather has changed, equally
suddenly; a week ago a few clouds appeared in the sky and temperatures
dropped a degree or two but the clouds soon evaporated and the
temperature returned to blood-heat or above for much of the day; night
temperatures were, as is usual in the summer, around ten degrees less
than those of the day.
On the last evening of August, I drove my visiting daughter and her
children home from the beach at Methoni under gathering towers of cloud;
cumulus, some dark, portending rain. At home we dined outside under the
canopy of the generations-old Carob tree that is our summer dining room
but as the evening wore on the breeze strengthened to make the evening
unusually chilly. I was surprised to wake the following morning to a
cloudless dawn and to realise that the night had remained dry but it was
into a different morning that I moved from the house, a morning that
even after sunrise felt fresh and clear and through which blew a strong
and blustery breeze; for the first time since it was installed in June
the marble of the work-surface on which I prepare my early morning
coffee felt cold to my touch.
On the forth of September I am typing in a cafĂ©‚ adjacent to the beach.
My grand-son is sleeping in a push-chair at my side, his mother and
sisters are swimming. It is a fine, clear, summery afternoon but I know
that summer, sizzling summer, is over. Through something less than the
past twenty-four hours, edges, distinctions between solid, liquid and
gas; sea and sky, sea and land, land and sky have become razor sharp.
During high summer there is little colour here, little to distinguish
the shadowless pale pastel blue of sea and sky from the of the pale
grey-greens of foliated land and the buff and dun fawn of bare rock.
Today's colours are clean, clearly defined, intense; there is nothing
remotely pastel toned about the sea, it is strong turquoise blue close
by darkening to ultramarine towards a very positive horizon which
separates it clearly from a clean pale blue sky.
Beyond the shelter of the headland the wind, occasional strong gusts of
which are making the sun shade awning above me rumble like thunder,
flecks the dark (some might have said 'wine dark') sea with myriad
'white-horses' or 'sheep' as they call them here.
It is very pleasantly comfortable, temperatures are already settled at
ten degrees or so lower than they were a week or so back and soon,
perhaps within a day or two, it will rain; short-lived but violent and
extremely dramatic end-of-summer storms will come to clean and refresh
the parched and dusty land. A few remaining holiday makers, particularly
those from Northern Europe, will be disappointed but those of us who
have been here and seen no rain for months will be rejoicing at the
prospect of some refreshing downpours and a comfortably cool verdant

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