Sunday, 5 February 2012

“The others leap, shout: Freedom! The moving water will not show me my reflection. The rocks ignore. I am a word in a foreign language.” (“Disembarking at Quebec.” from “The Journals of Susanna Moody” by Margaret Atwood).

“Yes, Officer, I’ve got the snow chains, trouble is, I CAN’T FIND THE CAR!!”

It has been snowing for five days.  White on white.  Outside, with each step, your leg sinks hip-height into the snow.  The electricity is intermittent and today the water pipes have frozen.
Yesterday on TV news we saw the Pope looking out from his misted window onto the snow which St. Peter’s Square has not seen the like of since the middle of the last century.  Rome’s public services complain they can’t cope; its Mayor is saying his prayers.  People are skiing on the streets of Naples.
We are lucky.  At seven a.m. whilst we are cleaning teeth with melted snow, a trusty fellow from the Commune is chugging down the hill to our house with a makeshift snow-plough attached to his tractor, clearing, as best he can, the roadway to the village.  He leaves mountains of snow and ice ridged up by the roadside.  Fortunately, Peter’s Land Rover has been in and out and we have a tyre track thoroughfare.  Also, I had opened the electric gates on seeing the first snowflake, thus saving Peter from half a days digging in order to get them open.  Paolo calls that “perspicacia”.  I looked it up in the Italian/English dictionary; it said “perspicacity” but, my English dictionary is in storage.
Yesterday afternoon Paolo phoned, worried, from his house in town.  He believed his younger son (30+) to be marooned in his agriturismo B & B 5k away; he is not answering the phone and Paolo cannot get his own car out of the drive.  Peter offered to drive Paolo over to check things out.  The Land Rover is maneuverable, just, with snow chains and the “diff lock” on.   Paolo, anxious, was at his gate and as we drove up he exclaimed, “The English have come to liberate us!”.  He must have a long memory!
Young son was safe and well at home, and in the capable arms of his girlfriend, his mobile having run out of juice.  But, his electric gates were closed and not operating.  Peter and Paolo had to stealth their way in, on foot, under snow. Even if the gates had been open no-one would have been able to navigate through the seeming-iceberg left by the snow plough which had cleared the road in front.  Stranded son had a full larder; wood for the fire; a working TV, and a full bottle of whisky, a Christmas present (perhaps from a perspicacious friend):  everyone has their own idea of freedom.  Paolo breathed his second sigh of relief.  Too soon.  The Land Rover had become stuck, poised pivotal on top of the “iceberg” at the gate, in a vain attempt to bulldoze an exit for Paolo’s son’s Panda.  It took an hour for the three men to dig the Land Rover free.
The scaffolding enclosing “our house in the making” has been removed.  Not before time.  When the weather improves (...?) work will resume.  Meanwhile, if our water supply is not resumed soon, we may have to seek out alternative alternative accommodation for the duration; somewhere dog friendly.

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