Rain and roses, or thunder and roses more like: a storm is passing overhead this very moment and will doubtless break the stem of some of these blooms.
But there was moonlight last night, as well as a deafening shrill of crickets.
I have a perfectly ambivalent attitude towards rose chafers.
I hate them for destroying roses.
Recently I’ve found them burrowing head first into nectarines.
On the other hand I’m dazzled by the great slab of iridescence on their backs.
This one was dead when I found it, floating in the swimming pool, so luckily I didn’t have to decide its fate.
Yesterday we had a storm which left everywhere smelling wonderful.
The roses were hung with row upon row of water drops.
And the pears were covered with pear drops!
We don’t have any raspberries so roses will have to do. This is the saga from today.
I left Chokri in the middle of jobs which needed lots of tools and materials, Clive tearing his hair out because of a poor internet connection, and Galileo petrified somewhere on the hillside.
I had to pick up an already completed tax form.
Just as I got to the relevant offices in Valtopina, a woman whisked into the room and then didn’t come out.
The people around me didn’t even notice as they chatted and caught up on each others’ ailments.
A spry old man droned incomprehensibly at me until suddenly I heard: “But women are absolute tigers. They’re hyenas. They’re a completely different species from men…” I wish I’d heard the lead-up!
I remarked to the people near me that I was picking up a form and had been advised to knock.
I knocked, and caught the previous entrant mid-chat, wasting everybody’s time.
The officiator didn’t have her reading glasses; didn’t know where I should sign; needed to make a phonecall on my behalf but couldn’t see to dial the number and anyway her mobile had run out of juice. It all took more time than it should have done.
I emerged to a hostile gathering. One woman said in a voice for all to hear: “You may jump queues like this in England but you don’t here.”
I bit back that England had nothing to do with it. I know from experience that making apologies or excuses only fans the flame of indignation.
I’d obviously been discussed because my nationality was correct – I’m normally known as American, German, Dutch – anything but English!
If I could burp on command like David Bowie’s ideal woman, I would have done.
This is my response to the challenge issued by Cecilia in her blog ‘thekitchensgarden’.
I took the photos today in not very photogenic weather. Here our al fresco dining area is shining wet from the latest shower and Mount Subasio, beloved of St Francis, is blotted out by mist.
The plant bulging over the tiled surface on the left is thyme, and behind it, in front of the yellow roses, is one of many clumps of love-in-a-mist.
Just to the right of the door, a very different scene with the rain now drying up.
Galileo is climbing on what we call our ‘cold frame’ – spare double-glazed windows propped on crates so as to provide shelter for seedlings. You can see he’s wearing a bell round his neck – the sort hunting dogs wear. It has a lovely Alpine tinkle which we hope will enable us to find out where he goes when he runs off frightened and doesn’t come back for hours. The other two dogs are keeping him company.
Behind the cold frame is what we call the ‘shelter’ – pallets held upright by stakes driven into the ground – designed to stop light seed trays etc from blowing away in the wind. It’s got pretty cluttered over time.
To the left of the cold frame is the barbecue which we never finished building but which we’ve used like it is, with the blocks laid dry. At the moment it’s full of rosemary prunings so that our next fire will smell nice.
Beyond the stub lamp is a glimpse of the nearest house in that direction. It’s the only one which could, conceivably, overlook us!
Of all the seeds we ordered from Britain and tried to grow here, love-in-a-mist has probably been the biggest success story.
Some of our experiments were miserable failures.
The poached egg flowers took one look at the Italian sun before turning up their toes, and the zinnias gave us a wonderful display for a year and then no more. The nasturtiums staggered on for a couple of years and then disappeared.
But our love-in-a-mist is almost a weed.
After overtaking the anaemic white strain, this beautiful shade of blue has become the majority colour and it floods the flower beds like a tide.
It crowds under the roses so that we have to pull it out by the handful, and flops over in the rain or where the dogs have made inroads.
At the end of summer, its seeds lie so thickly on the paths where they’ve fallen that you can gather them up with a dustpan and brush.
I remarked to Chokri about how just a very few plants have made it big here while others failed despite our efforts.
“You took too good care of them,” he said. “When you just throw them about, this is what happens!”
Today has been mild, with gentle rain, loud birdsong and a real smell of spring in the air.
I’m relieved to have ‘finished’ (as best I’m able) the pruning of the fruit trees – next the roses!
This photo, dating from a few days ago when it was dry, is one of my favourites of Galileo.
A soft breeze has caught his fur as he explores.
He looks as if he’s just been blown dry, like an Afghan at Crufts!