16 May 2009

This year I am as confused as the bees. Nature is either late or early. Or maybe both!

Confused like a bee…

This year I am as confused as a “bee living in a world of pesticides and global warming”. Not that I am living in such a world, or rather, I probably am, but it’s not so evident around here. And that’s what makes it even more confusing…

So here’s what’s bugging me: I notice natural events such as “what flower is in bloom when”, “what’s the weather like when” etc. a lot. But this year everything is “weird”… My husband makes fun of me. He jokingly calls me a “peasant”, because I know the names of plants and the rhythms of agriculture, while he grew up in a city on a different continent so he doesn’t pay any attention to these kind of things.

On the other hand, for me sounds, smells and the stuff going on in the countryside are very important. In my mind the different seasons and the different times of the year are associated with certain natural phenomena. So I can actually “smell the spring”, when all of a sudden after the rain the countryside smells of wet grass rather than of dust, and I can hear the sound of the birds that marks that special moment in which nature comes back to life after a sleepy winter, and I can name the flowers that are in bloom in the different times of the year. I know that whitethorn is in bloom when the trees have no leaves. I know that the almond tree is the first fruit tree to be in bloom. I know that swallows arrive in late March or early April. I know this kind of stuff because it has “paced” my entire life, at least until I moved to Pisa. But even there, in the center of the city, I know springs has arrived when I first hear the blackbirds and the sparrows in the garden. And there are very distinctive sounds in the warm evenings of the late spring, as if the air was thicker and the sounds were softer. Have you ever noticed? Well, you should try to listen and look around carefully. It’s amazing.

This year, though, I am really confused. It rained until the beginning of May. The beautiful black locusts around here have never been more covered in flowers but the glorious golden genistas are not yet fully in bloom, and yet I have already seen several fields full of poppies…

This year something is slightly off. Some plants are late, while other plants are early. I know it’s not the end of the world (although some might disagree with me), but for those who like me (and bees) really have a rural rhythm inside, this is indeed confusing.


  1. Gloria, one of the most beautiful parts of living in Europe is the way life paces itself with the seasons. Your examples are ones which I also sense myself. We have a bee keeping farm next door, and I can tell the day the almond blossoms open because they come over in droves. I have never been stung — the bees are so happy to get to the flowers. Also the appearance of asparagus — of new potatoes — all the things which nature provides us with the right vitamins at the right times… it is all part of the rythym.

    This year is sooo off…the farmers are freaking out completely…

  2. I have just seen a firefly in our garden in Pisa… that is really weird, because they should not be around before late June/July.

    I am not saying that it is not a good thing. I remember when I was a kid and I used to go out with my great-grandmother at night to catch them. She made me put them under a glass and in the morning I would find some coins instead of the little (poor) animals!

    In my village there is this road, known as “dietro le mura“, literally “behind the village walls”, which had no street lights then: it was amazing. It was packed with fireflies. It was like walking in star dust, whatever that is! Then, for years, they had essentially disappeared, because of pesticides, they said.

    Last year to my great surprise, I saw plenty both in our garden in Pisa and in Civitella. But never so early.

    Nature is going crazy. At last all the genistas are in full bloom around Pisa.

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