Tuesday, October 9, 2012



‘’This year’s incredibly hot, dry summer had the doom-merchants out in force.
Quote: ‘So this is global warming – Europe is going to turn into a desert!’
Quote: ‘All the fish are dying in the Med, Spain and southern France are burning, people are dying in thousands of heat – this is a Biblical catastrophe!’
Between them, the Greek TV channels and the Daily Mail had us all in a panic, gasping for breath.’’

I wrote the above paragraph in an article for The Corfiot in September 2003!
Nine years ago.
So there really is nothing new about this wonderful extension of summer  that we have been experiencing in October 2012.

The article went on: ‘The heat is going to continue at least to Christmas!’ said the Corfiot soothsayers – and within days the weather had changed and our first September storm took its toll.
But then October came on stage, dressed in gold, with azure skies, new grass sprouting emerald beneath the olive trees, swathes of autumn crocus and cyclamen, trees, refreshed, lifting their heads again to the sun that was still surprisingly warm. ‘’

’For anyone who has not yet experienced just how quickly the seasons can change in Corfu, the middle of October must have been a revelation. ‘’

 Barbati two days ago

Barbati yesterday
  But back in 2003,  a very special storm was looming, one that pitted the might of the north against the spite of the south, and..

‘’ One evening, after a wet and blustery day, the wind swung round abruptly to the north, gathered strength and reached Force 10 to 11, and swept into the bays of Coyevinas and Avlaki at about midnight, screaming like a banshee, behaving like a tornado. The sea was whipped into three-metre high waves of astonishing power, and tons of stones were scooped up from the seabed and the beaches and dumped several metres inland. The Avlaki road disappeared beneath the pebbles, its wooden decking was ripped up and hurled away, with whatever was left in place looking like a railroad along which a tornado funnel has traveled – wood splintered and ripped into freakish shapes. The road along the beach at Coyevinas sank and buckled as the stones on which it was laid were scooped out by the waves. Tourists staying in a beachside villa found the sea lapping at their front door.

By the next morning, the beaches were completely re-shaped, and the sea was calm, with the still menace of a raider waiting to make another surprise attack.  On the Albanian mountains opposite, a thin layer of the first snow greeted early risers, to vanish quietly as the sun came out to illuminate the destruction.
A week later, a night of continuous hard rain, and a sullen southerly wind has laid its own gifts at Corfu’s door. South-facing beaches, such as Ipsos and Barbati have been  desecrated by a thick tidemark of seaweed, which has brought with it the most amazing amount of rubbish. Not just natural debris, such as tree branches, weed, planks torn from distant jetties, but also tons of the ugly plastic rubbish we so thoughtlessly throw away, to find its way into the sea. Plastic of every kind – disposable cups, empty containers that once held everything from water to bleach, punctured lilos and beach toys, broken chairs.
A natural justice – all that we so carelessly throw away to pollute the sea and the environment, returned to us again by the sea, ultimately ours to dispose of  again, but responsibly this time.
In the end, it seems, Nature gets its revenge and flaunts our predictions in our faces.
Just to underline its point, the dragging clouds over Albania lifted briefly to reveal the highest peaks draped in the first real snow, glinting in the sun, here to stay this time.
So much for the hottest summer ever. ‘’

2003. Nine years ago.

Today, as so often happens, we had rain and thunder near Corfu Town but not a drop in the north of the island. The unpredictability of Corfu – one of its greatest frustrations, one of its greatest attraction.

Not a drop fell in the north of the island.

It is impossible to be bored in Corfu, with weather like this. It is also impossible to be completely accurate in our predictions.

Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause
between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.
-   Carol Bishop Hipps

Another autumnal day, today. That old autumn feeling creeps in. A touch of melancholy, a tinge of nostalgia. Katie Melua’s sweet, sad ballads on iTunes. Thinking about making apple pie or walnut cake. Thinking, too, about putting on some socks and maybe throwing a fleece around my shoulders.
Is this goodbye summer? Feels about right, feels about time. Funny thing is, all the blogs I read are about autumn, too.

Photos are my own and also by Frosso, Chris, Bob in Michigan and my sister.

Friday, October 5, 2012


CountyKate tracks down the proof with her trusty camera and nearly breaks a leg in the process

The summer comes to an abrupt end, here on The County, with the Labour Day Long Weekend on the first of September, followed by commencement of school.  Over that weekend, traditionally, the cottages, trailers and campgrounds are closed up for winter, not to be reopened, again traditionally, until May 24 as we call it; actually the Victoria Day Long Weekend.


 Everything must be packed away, in critter proof containers, inside and outside of the property, but people forget, or underestimate, the ability of the animals, and it’s not always done tightly enough.

 How did a mouse, one winter, get inside a corked bottle of olive oil for instance, and why? To flavour the oil for future cooking?  Many are the summer toys, removed from 'secure' wrappings, found to have mice or chipmunks nested in them, for warmth and hibernation.  I had dried flower arrangements rearranged one year, into nest shaped bundles, and my hubby had his golf club covers, made lovingly by his daughters from old socks, chewed to blazes by mice!

Another routine in late August, is to clean and inspect the school buses, for another nine months of abuse  - sorry, use, and to make sure the engines are in perfect running order.  All the equipment must be checked - the blunted axe, for checking tire pressure;  the seats mended, windows realigned; all the lights, brakes and automatic doors, all must operate smoothly.

I like kids and I love  driving. To operate a huge yellow bus gives a great feeling of power, but I was warned in training '  just because you have the power to stop traffic ' don't get cocky.  Its very tempting though, to stop a police car in his tracks, when he is doing his coffee run!

I thought it would be an easy job, pickups and drop- offs.  What else?  I've mended broken dollies, wiped dirty faces, cleaned up vomit, played with dogs, refused hockey sticks - it might be a weapon - accepted presents and generally been accepted as a 'good un' by the community.

So, the buses are up and running, no unpleasant weather yet, but the trees are definitely turning orange and red, a sure sign Fall or Autumn is approaching.  We Spring Forward and Fall Back here, and will do so in early November.

Now is the run-up to Halloween, which you either love or hate.  A  contrived festival now, who really remembers it for All Hallows Eve, when Spirits walk amongst us?  Now it’s the time when ' ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties' run riot through our neighbourhoods, which are decked out in gravestones, swirling mist and eerie shrieks. Children don costumes and walk from door to door, with their parents in costume as well, taking treats from householders.  The parents dress up too; even the ladies in the bank don demure dresses, and the school crossing guard becomes a werewolf for the day!

Even the cat wants to be dressed up!

But nature plays her part too; there are fields full of orange pumpkins, some already picked and put on display in the farmers’ stands. 

Not a monster caterpillar - just  wrapped hay bales

There is a gamut of scarecrows, and witches decorating homes and stores, mum plants everywhere, and multi colored tomatoes, carrots and beets, and even purple potatoes.

Varieties of gourds are on display too - the Swan Neck, and many smaller, knobbly shapes and colors.

The contest pumpkins are on show too, only reaching 1500 lbs this year, because of the drought, not the normal 2500lbs we expect! 

 Fall colors deepen, light fades to darkness much earlier now, and the day after  Halloween, when the ghosties have returned to the tomb, we begin the preparations for  Christmas! 

Visualise National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and you have the picture. Huge balls of lights are rolled from garages, to untangle and display – can’t wait!

I’m placing some lovely photos of Fall color in this blog, obtained at risk to life and limb.   I parked alongside a beautiful old church in Picton, and attempted to walk up the short, steep grassy slope to the footpath.
Carrying my camera, wearing my new slide type backless sandals, my foot slipped out of the slide, tossing me backwards, and flinging my camera over the white picket fence to rattle down amongst the tombstones.

I came to rest on my back, facing the wrong way, half under my car, shoeless and feeling stupid.  I lay there, stunned, aware of many curtains twitching along the street, but no one came to help. Probably as embarrassed as I was, watching the vision of me sliding backwards, arms flailing, camera whirling through the air, crashing to earth, partly in a puddle, and lying there as if I meant to do it.

I heaved myself upright, replaced my shoes, and walked, sensibly, up the steps provided.  I found my camera against an ancient tombstone, dedicated to Captain Tripp, lost at sea in a violent storm. Hmm.

I took some lovely pictures, and drove home, but it was not until I tried to walk to my door, that I realised I had torn ligaments or tendons in my calf, and needed a walking stick for three weeks.

It’s possible, next time I blog, the first snow will have fallen.  October to May, it has lain in frozen drifts in sheltered places, though most has gone by late March.  My garden will sleep again until the end of May, my bird and chipmunk visitors will clamour for sustenance all those months and I will continue to write , paint and quilt too.

All my own work!

All photos except the one of raccoons are my own