This has been a strange summer, here in the foothills of the Apennines. May, June and July were quite chilly, cooler than normal. Except for a few days in mid-July, we have been cool and comfortable, until the past 10 days or so. Now, when summer is waning, when we should be putting on a light jacket after sunset, we are in the throes of a massive heat wave.
The entire Italian peninsula has been invaded by hot winds from Africa. A high pressure system has kept clouds from forming and tourists and residents alike are wilting like roses in front of a blast furnace. The Telegiornale tells us that visits to the ER are climbing and hospital staff keep a constant supply of IV fluid in refrigeration, the better to cool down overheated bodies quickly and efficiently. The elderly, who often still believe that air conditioning is bad for them and refuse to even turn on a fan, are the most frequent victims of this heat. Their odd insistence that being in a draft will give them bronchitis or a stiff neck is incomprehensible to me, but that is their position and they are sticking to it!
One of the unfortunate side-effects of this heat is the issue of forest fires, and we in Cervinara are not exempt from this problem. For several days now, smoke has been seen on the mountains and ashes have been drifting down over the entire Castello-Ioffredo district. Helicopters bearing water fly regularly overhead to fight the flames. Forest rangers in off-road vehicles are coming through our narrow streets in greater and greater numbers. There is real concern for the chestnut and walnut trees, as well as for the safety of those who work and live in the hills.
Our neighbor Bertuccio, who knows these hills better than anyone, has said that things are under control, and so we have faith that the fires will be put out and that the damage will be limited. But the weather forecasters predict at least another week of this heat, and there is no rain on the horizon for weeks. Until we get a couple of good soaking rains, the problems of the forest fires will continue and the concerns about the chestnut harvest will linger. We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for a positive outcome.....but it is certain that this summer will be one for the record books!