Yes, yes and part 2 of the Home Thoughts from Abroad as well, don’t panic.
The weather has changed in that the nights being clear are getting much colder. 13C last night up here in the hills of Martina Franca. There are benefits of course, no windows open means the dogs can bark at the moon to their hearts content without me hearing them , early Italian risers who just love to rotavate their land or strim the grass at 7 a.m. can also go at it for all I care as I slumber fully insulated behind the double glazing.
However one thing that I do miss is the noise of the crickets who have almost all packed their little cricket bags and headed off to that great pavilion in the sky. There is something very summery about the noise and it reminds me always of Mediterranean holidays of old. They love olive trees and certainly down on the coast in the huge olive groves with 2,000 year old trees the noise is deafening but up here with just a few trees around the property the noise is merely soothing.
But did you know you can tell the temperature by listening to them ? Crickets won’t chirp at all at under 13˚C but after that the hotter the air temperature the more they chirp and their chirping increases in unison with the increase in temerature. clever things aren’t they? Better than that there is a formula to calculate the temp. so if your thermometer has gone on the blink you just need to listen to the nearest cricket. To get the temp. in Fahrenheit count the chirps in 14 secs and then add 40 to get it in Celsius count the number in 25 secs then divide by 3 and add 4. I always knew we were wrong to switch, it makes even getting a cricket to tell us the temp. more complicated.
and so to part two of Jackie’s thoughts :
“Closer to home in Martina Franca, the topographical delights of the area are more subtle and dare I say it – more English. Or Welsh, or Devonian. Except of course for the Trulli which are hobbit like, endlessly photogenic and of course characteristic of the area. On walks and drives locally we discovered a hilly territory of low dry stone walls built in the almost luminous white granite the area is famous for, enclosing small plots of agricultural and very productive land. Even the scruffiest little field seemed to contain something to eat. In one two donkeys and a heat-crazed dog, with vines and tomatoes beyond, in another three fat and happy pigs, and fig trees dripping ripe black ‘fichi’ into my sticky palms. Along the verges, wild flowers, butterflies and blackberries which rewarded the scratches to bare ankles. It is foraging country.
Which brings me to the most important element of our stay – la cucina. We are ever so keen on food, though I disown the term ‘foodie’, and we already favour the Mediterranean ethos and a freshly sourced seasonal, largely vegetable based diet with good fish and meat. All my best understood words of Italian were to my amusement, pretty much based on eating and from my ancient ‘O’ level Latin ie ‘Tordo’ in Latin Turdus or thrush etc. The real food gems of our stay in Puglia whether prepared in the home, or out, were produced with such love and pride and with a real passion to share with us it made us feel very privileged (as well as happy and ‘rotondo’).
So, as I vow to buy some playdoh to continue my attempts to produce even one non deformed ‘orecchiette’, and as my shopping list today is full of the ingredients I need to reproduce an authentic lamb dish we learned about from lovely Rosa, I think my Puglia goggles are firmly attached, and yes we have acquired the taste ! ”
Thank you for this and I’m pleased that Puglia has grown on you. The fresh and only seasonal food aspect of life here is so important and to accompany Rosa’s husband as he searches out the various wild edible plants and funghi is a not to be missed experience.
Finally the really good news is that the cold weather has meant the grandchildren from hell and their parents have retreated back down the hill to Taranto until next August.