Friday, 26 January 2007


Death always comes unexpected. Like that of my 87-year old mother. On Friday night my sister phoned to tell me that my mother's heart was alarmingly poor. Very early on Saturday morning we were at Mytilini airport and at 2 o'clock in the afternoon I was sitting with my mother in a hospital in Holland. We could say goodbye to each other and I could take her in my arms. She had lived a good life.

When you leave in such a hurry, there are always things you forget, like passwords for all the different communication items. And you will understand when I say that for a while I had no desire to write about the beautiful island of Lesvos. That is why you had to go some weeks without my writing.

During the time we spent in Holland it was gorgeous warm weather on Lesvos. It was the famous Small Summer, the period everybody hopes for in January. In Holland they also had very moderate temperatures, until last week. Anyhow, Holland had an exceptional year last year. A pretty hot summer, a warm autumn and everybody complained that the winter didn't arrive.

That winter can come pretty unexpectedly, was proven by the last days of our stay there. Ponds and ditches froze and in some parts of the country woolly snowflakes spread a white carpet over the landscape. In spite of the normal winter scenery the change of weater remained one of the important topics.

A large part of Holland is below sea level. The possibility that the ice at the poles is melting scares many a Dutchman. The predictions of higher temperatures and especially those of a rising sea level are pretty scary.

With the death of my mother we also had to clear out her house. Amongst all the books I found a book with the title: 'The weather machine, or the threat of the ice' by the English science writer Nigel Calder. The book was published in 1974 and is about the threat of a coming ice age. I was wondering. Because now, 32 years later, everybody seems to think that the earth is becoming warmer and warmer.

When yesterday morning we drove to Amsterdam airport and ended up in a traffic jam, the conversation with the taxi driver quickly turned to climate change. When I mentioned the English science writer who was predicting a new ice age, I was surprised that the taxi driver, who was very interested in the weather, agreed with this idea. He said that the weather-gurus in Holland insisted on this scary weather scenario so that the Dutch people would become more eco- conscious.

During conversations about this topic I could not help but calculate how high our house in Eftalou is situated. I thought some metres high, but not the 4 metres they predict the sea level will rise. But anyhow, we can always escape to the hills right behind our house, where we can be safe from rising water.

Such doom-saying about climate change would do no harm in Greece. The Greek media only rarely publish minor articles about environmental pollution and the worldwide consequences.

On Lesvos they do not worry about the rising of the sea level. They probably do not even know that this can happen. The doom-saying for Greece is that the south will get a dessert-like climate and the North will have to deal with pretty bad rain showers and, just like in Holland, with heavy storms.

Lesvos is half way between the North and the South. Like every year it had its Little Summer right on time in January and now the winter of February is due to come. In Greek terms this winter will be viewed as a mild winter. A little dry, but nothing exceptional. Unless the winter will have some surprises. It is good that you can never predict the weather, nor the changing of the climate. Because are we going to have that new ice age or not?

Copyright © Smitaki 2007

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