Back home in Grey Britain now. Warmer than average for this time of year, cloud acting as insulating blanket kept temperatures up through much of November – but spirits down. Mostly between what mountaineers call ‘claggy’ and ‘very claggy’ – grey or dark grey skies. Guess I suffer from SAD. Thankfully there is the occasional day or two of sunshine.
In the summer, before flights to Greece re-started, I harvested fruit from the garden, enough stored in the freezer for the next twelve months and beyond. But little is left now. Beans finished. Pests have ruined winter veg. Caterpillars ravaged brassicas. Weeds inevitably rampant after weeks away. Deepens the gloom.
Need to get on with Autumn clearing which is never the most joyful of tasks.
One bright spot is the crop of tomatoes. Three plants in the Blue House, reached nearly 5 metres to the roof, climbing through the palm tree and the agave, and produced a huge crop, a final 5 kgs of fruit, when I cut them down. Finished now.
Quite different from arid Symi where summer is the dormant period and Autumn marks the beginning of new growth. End of September and beginning of October sees the emergence of life. Not as flamboyant or as prolific as the flora in April and early May, the flowers of early autumn are perhaps more appreciated because they emerge from months of drought and are comparatively scarce.
In a couple of easily bypassed locations, sharply contrasting with the summer-crisped vegetation, is a profusion of pink flowered Autumn Crocuses, (Colchicum Autumnale), one of the plants also known as Naked Ladies because the flowers, up to 10cms across, emerge from parched soil and bare rock ahead of the leaves. They begin to appear at the end of September and multiply rapidly into October.
Less flamboyant, indeed small and insignificant, seemingly shy and retiring (to anthropomorphise), is the Biarum Marmarisense. Again, I know of them only in a couple of small areas in the mountains on Symi. Pale white suffused with pink and only about 6cms high they are easily missed even though close to and even in paths. They are not missed by bees as they are one of the few sources of nectar at this time of year. They don’t begin to appear until the first week of October but as I head home mid-October I don’t know how long they least or when the foliage comes through. One of the places they occur is on a goat-migration route and they are usually grazed-off at soil level.
With cooling temperatures, wildlife which has been keeping out of the scorching sun during much of the day begins to emerge. Gnarly tortoises (Testudo graeca) amble along jerkily even towards midday.
It’s good to look back. And to look forward to Spring. Meanwhile hunkering down and hoping for bright frosty days and a good dump of snow
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