Sunday, 17 February 2008

Snow line

It's often said that the Dutch like to talk about the weather. Well, nowhere else than here on the island of Lesvos, weather is the talk of the day. And unlike in Holland, the weather here has some influence on daily life.

Take that North eastern storm that ended at the end of last week, after pounding at the waves for days. No boats went to and from Athens, so there were no deliveries. If you went to Lidl, you were in for a big disappointment, because half the shop was empty. After the storm there was a strike which particularly disrupted life in Athens, and was the reason that there were no flights that day.

For days heating oil couldn't be distributed to the island. And when after the storm the boats finally could go the oil distributors got in a fight with the government about new taxes and refused to distribute heating oil. Not a nice threat when everybody is forecasting cold weather.

However nobody worried about that on Valentines Day. The sun provided so much warmth that we went for a picnic amongst the anemones, where we had a marvellous view of the white powdered tops of Lepetimnos.

It was also on Valentine Day that the Peloponnesos was rocked by two serious earthquakes. People fled their houses and schools were evacuated: they got a bad fright. Damages were only some cracks in the walls and some plaster that came off walls. Here on Lesvos we felt nothing of the quake. It was only family and friends that telephoned or e-mailed in order to ask if we were okay.

The next day everybody kept on talking about the approaching bad weather: cold and snow. The Greek media did a good job in scaring everybody. You got the feeling that Greece would turn into the North Pole.

Although people on Lesvos do forget where they live. I spoke to a few people that really were afraid of getting snowed in. And of course the winter did strike the mainland, where roads got snowed in and reporters in Eskimo clothing stood in the middle of snow flakes whirling down, telling how some cars came off the road. More than one village was cut off and stranded drivers had to be freed from their cars. Everywhere in the country had plenty of snow, even on Crete.

But Lesvos is an island that mostly has mild winters. In the cold months you only have to be careful of dangerous weather when you drive through the mountains. That's where some snow fell on Saturday morning. The snow line slowly came down as far as Vafios. In the lower areas we just had some threatening clouds, a falling temperature and an increasing wind.

The wind kept on getting stronger. Until it was a merciless storm with a gale force of 9 to 10 Beaufort. Then it's nice to remember how just two days ago you were enjoying the sun outside. The wind was tearing at the house with a scary force, but the cold was worse. It sneaked inside through all the crevices of the house.

This weekend again there were no boats braving the Aegean Sea, also most of the flights between Mytilini and Athens were cancelled. I do like a good winter. The times I really feel homesick are when Holland is covered with snow. But I think that whenever you have to endure cold weather, they should send some snow along.

While the rest of Greece is enjoying a feel of wintersport, here in the north of Lesvos it is grey, ice cold with a few snowflakes whirling down. But the actual snow line still doesn't reach below Vafios. Even Turkey is getting more and more white by the minute. The sea this morning was furious, its high waves spewing steam into the cold air.

Now the waves have calmed down, although they still spit steam to the arctic cold from the North East. The weather forecast predicts another cold day and then the winter is over. Temperatures are forecast to be close to 20°C by the end of the week. So I can forget my dreams about a Molyovos covered with snow. I forgot that I live on Lesvos, where the weather makes it a game to yoyo with the temperatures.

Copyright © Smitaki 2008

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