Living in the countryside makes you acutely aware of the weather. Since moving out here, in fact, I've experienced how the weather affects life far more profoundly than just dictating when to switch from sandals to boots, summer to winter wardrobe, or when to put on the snow tyres. When it rains here, the Internet connection usually disappears. If it thunders, we have to swiftly unplug everything in the house. When it pours, the electricity may go, and long downpours bring landslides that may block our one road to civilization. Snow? Let's just say that snow complicates life on a cliff, especially one beside the Mediterranean.
If a drop of rain, or a ray of sunlight, can make quite a big difference to daily life around here, so do the number of daylight hours: when the sunlight fades, we're quite literally left in the dark, which is very romantic and pristine when you're gazing into the starry sky, but can be a bit of a bother when you're feeling around in the dark for the front door. (A little digression: on a recent trip to Milan, big boy looked out to the city-lit skyscape one evening, and somberly commented: "How sad it must be never to experience darkness at night!" - our kids have grown up accustomed to country life in a way that Tom and I, cityfolks, will never be).
Oh my, what a long explanation that was for why I'm so aware of the weather - and, as any gardener, I'm even more tuned to even the slightest change in the weather! In the last few years, my weather awareness made me notice all the changes in the seasons: autumn tends to be warm, winter severe with some sudden extreme weather, spring non-existent, summer short and scorching. This isn't the climate our neighbors describe from decades past, nor even as it was 14 years ago when we first moved here.
As a gardener, I've tried to adapt to these new climate realities with new gardening habits. This year, for instance, I planted a second crop of peas (the quintessential spring vegetable) at the end of August. The plants sprouted and grew, then bloomed and fruited: little, tender pea pods, that for several weeks now have been hiding under the foliage. Trouble is, it's the beginning of November, and although the temperatures are unseasonably high - we've had a fire in the evening maybe five times so far - it doesn't seem to be pea weather after all.
Don't get me wrong: I'm the last person in the world to complain about warm weather! But my November peas aren't getting past the pod stage. Through their translucent peel, I can see that they aren't growing round and plump as peas should. They're stuck as little pea embryos.
Fact is, despite the warmth, this probably isn't their natural growing season. Maybe the hours of sunlight aren't enough, or the slanting sun isn't direct enough, or the soil temperature isn't quite right. Like another of my garden anomalies, the November strawberries (!), I suspect they'll take too long to mature, and will be cut off by chill or decay.
Part of me wants to adapt to these changing weather patterns, but another part wonders whether we ourselves in fact can fully adapt.