Snowbound in Tuscany

Baroness Murphy

To my surprise I’ve gone from being snowbound in Norfolk to being snowbound in Tuscany. The forecast suggests it will quickly turn to rain but meanwhile the olive trees and vines take on a rare appearance. A young Italian friend got stuck coming up our steep lane this morning and we had to dig her out. I think the Equality Bill will have to start without me! Last week there were floods and landslides near Lucca where the River Serchio burst its banks and surged into the plane near Lago Massaciuccholi, flooding several villages. The recent exceptional rainfall in Tuscany and the sudden melting of the snow in the Alpi Apuane before Christmas has led to major difficulties in getting around. Our own Val Freddana is pretty well prepared for disaster after major floods and landslides a few years ago but still the sheer amount of water rushing down the valley is a surprise after a summer where there was no water for months. I keep telling myself this is very good for filling up the underground river that serves our well but the weight of snow has already broken the top off my cherished mimosa tree (all set ready to flower in February) and we shall damage the olive trees if the snow stays for long. I am beginning to envy Lady Deech her trip to South Africa. Meanwhile politics and legislation are far from my mind at the moment. Buon Anno, Tutti

7 comments for “Snowbound in Tuscany

  1. Bedd Gelert
    04/01/2010 at 8:43 pm

    Baroness Murphy,

    Never mind dear, the extra flights to and from Tuscany will increase your carbon footprint gently and the resulting global warming will help to melt that snow in a jiffy…

    Mind you, having seen Wales in all its glory after 3 inches of snow, I do despair slightly at people complaining about the winter weather. Yes, it is a pain not being able to get about, and for older folk it can be downright dangerous. But surely we can take time in our busy lives to ‘stand and stare’ and enjoy the beauty of it ?? It does not last long before we are back to the drab weather of springtime.

    I mean, very few things are really THAT important that they won’t wait a few days, no matter how much we’d like to pretend otherwise.

    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda for 2010.

  2. Croft
    05/01/2010 at 1:48 pm

    I’ve not had so much as a snow flake all winter – frankly I’m feeling rather left out – the UK is seemingly plunged back into the dark ages by a few frosts – well if you believe the press/tv anyway!

  3. 05/01/2010 at 7:56 pm

    The irony of frozen wind turbines.

  4. Gar Hywel
    05/01/2010 at 8:34 pm

    Whilst my good friend Bedd employs terms of endearment for a very noble baroness (perhaps they are acquainted) perhaps I should enter the affray by reminding ..Murphy to WASSAIL her trees.

    My fruit trees were wassailed by myself and my gardener about three weeks ago, a little early I do admit,but I shall also give them a good pep talk in the next week or two to remind them of their responsibilities in the coming year. Singing and dancing to them is usually enough.

    Olives need something extra too.

    • Gar Hywel
      05/01/2010 at 10:13 pm

      Tuscab wassailers Wanted for Baroness Murphy’s olive trees!

      Gently shake some of that snow from each tree you talk to!

      This is a loving gesture!

      if you have got 500 trees you must go all the way round the perimeter, singing and dancing.

      There must be Italian Wassail songfs for the purpose (the trees may not understand English).

      Get to it Baroness or you may not have enough olives to decorticate and press in September!

      Here’s to the Baroness’ olives
      Hey Ho Hey Nonny Nonny Noh!
      No good to the Deech
      now eating SA peach
      Stick with the olive
      and Tuscan snow!
      Hey Nonny nonny noh!

      (sing while dancing round the trees!)

  5. baronessmurphy
    06/01/2010 at 3:08 pm

    Gar Hywel, I never realised i was supposed to wassail the trees but I’ve looked it up today and find this is the very day, Twelfth Night or Epifania here in Italy, that we should wassail the olives. This will surprise them but I guess if it works for cider apples in England it will be OK for olives. Thanks for this vital tip.

    • Gar Hywel
      07/01/2010 at 2:46 pm

      An Italian piano accordion would give them a huge boost for the growing season, but gentle hugs all round will do.

      It was interesting that you should have mentioned it at such a time when they need all the prayers/thought they can get, the trees that is!

      Happy days to you.

      I was looking at some olive groves in Portugal and the profitability, rather than the sheer pleasure, and quiet enjoyment of owning fruit trees, is not so very different between English apples/fruit and Mediteranean/S European olives.

      The labour involved in pitting the olive fruit/meat, then decorticating and pressing to extract oil, is similar but more difficult than the apple mashing and pressing.

      As always, it is the labour which provides the added value to the finished consumer product.

      With olives you’ve got the oil AND the bottled fruit or paste, whereas with the humble apple there is really only the juice or the alcohol cider!

      Decortication might take a long time to learn to do successfully.

      If I had olives, I would make a vast quantity of paste the first year, since that would keep very well indeed, for the whole winter.

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