while spring seemed ready to bear her head, winter decided to be more assertive. on february 1st we got a massive snow storm combined with gale-force winds originating in Siberia that created tree-covering snow drifts. a week later everything is still covered with snow – the olive trees, the artichoke patches, the narcissus, the tiled roofs, the tilled fields. everything except the roads. with amazing efficiency and diligence, the snow plows plowed and the salt trucks salted until the roads were clear. that’s a shock to a girl who grew up in washington d.c.!
it’s actually sort of a shame to not be stuck at home, to have an excuse to do nothing but sled down the hill slaloming between olive trees, build snowmen and make polenta on the wood stove. yes, i love the snow….
though the roads are transitable, we spend most time indoors anyway because the temperature has been stuck at around -5° C (20° F) for the past week, and the winds are still so strong they’ve blown the outdoor wooden chairs and tables down the hill. the windchill is Chicago-worthy: -15° C (5° F) and we’re told we have another week to go.
while it does snow in Tuscany each year, this is a bit extreme for us. anyone who was alive remembers The Great Cold and Snow of 1985 and 1956, years when most of tuscany’s olive trees died, and this is apparently a repeat of that phenomenon. i’m told you could hear a cracking sound as the trunks literally split open from the freeze. many trees sprouted up again from the roots, and many were replanted. but that’s one reason you don’t find many enormous olive trees here, like you do in the south of italy. anyone who has an olive grove (and we have 140 trees) has their fingers crossed that the trees will be spared this time around.