Thursday, 8 November 2012

November 5 – Weather report

(Sunset at the Gulf of Kalloni)

Last September the average temperature was unusually high in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Greenland, Japan and Russia. I would add Greece to this list, because it was pretty hot here too and certainly too warm for the time of the year. October was also unusually warm and might even have been the hottest October ever in Greece.

The summer weather was finally chased away by a heavy rain front with thunderstorms. A week ago, the day that the world was waiting anxiously for what Sandy would do in America, we were also waiting impatiently for the rain that was predicted. First we had to deal with a two hour power failure, then we were presented with an incredible show of lightning without thunder which forced the temperature up to 30 ºC and then finally the heavens opened with the roaring sound of thunder and rain — creating a deafening rock concert. In the north of Lesvos I guess enough rain fell for the rest of the winter and I could imagine a little how the Americans felt during Sandy. Elsewhere on the island, Lisvori for instance, not so much rain fell.

You could say that the summer is boring: no clouds in the sky, high temperatures and the only variations are presented by the wind, coming from this or that direction. It seems to me that the local Greeks have divided the wind directions only in two: here in the north when the wind blows from the sea it is a north wind, when the wind arrives from over the mountains it is a south wind. I seldom hear of the west or east wind. But after a recent storm from the south – that blew the rain clouds far away from the island - we did get an unexpected wind from the west. This is a rare and dangerous wind, producing large rolling waves, that swished noisily over the already damaged coastal road of Eftalou. I was afraid that it would take the whole road into the sea, but after a few hours the wind changed and the beach reappeared as brand new, and the freshly made holes in the road were easily filled naturally with a layer of sand and pebbles which were deposited by the sea on the street (a next storm probably will undo this repair, but that we will see another time).

The north of Lesvos is known for its sunsets and in summer you will see tourists positioned on the rocks between Molyvos and Petra in order to take pictures of this daily but romantic event. However people who really like sunsets should come in the autumn, when clouds aid the creation of a far more colourful sunset: a sun descending into the sea from an empty blue sky is not nearly as suberb as a sun plunging into the sea amidst fire spewing clouds.

For example yesterday in the morning the clouds mirrored themselves in the Gulf of Kalloni: the water surface was as smooth as glass. Humid air made the mountains look pretty mysterious and these two occurences promised very nice pictures at sunset. In the afternoon the wind came and all that magic ended. But the weather gods kept their promise: when the sun disappeared behind the mountains, the clouds exploded into bright colours and the waters of the Gulf of Kalloni coloured purple: a magic sunset.

Another phenomenon of the Mediterranean climate occurs at the end of the long hot summer with the greening of the dry landscape after the first rains. Mountains and fields will colour rapidly and if you observe it with patience you may see the herbs rushing out of the earth, growing a millimetre per minute. The water from heaven will dust off the landscape and the faded colours will be replaced by fresh green grasses and the yellow leaves of trees like figs or planes.

Even the moon seems to dress up for the season. Although not entirely autumn yet, on August 31st the moon made a special appearance: for the second time in one month it was full moon and this is called a Blue Moon. This may happen each second or third year and on this occasion Greece celebrated the Blue Moon with the opening at night of some 120 archaeological sites. Some days before the big storm a huge blood red moon appeared above the mountains and last week she was dressed with a rainbow coloured halo, announcing a second deluge from heaven. Although this abundant rainfall only occured two days later.

It took some time before the rain came, bringing the few flowers that add colours to the autumn - like the rose cyclamen and the yellow and pink autumn crocus – but only very few. The olive harvesters are waiting as well so that the olives can drink the water form heaven and I am wondering if the rain that has already fallen will have satisfied the mushrooms. Did they get enough to push their heads out of the earth or will it be – like last year – a pretty poor mushroom year?

So you see, autumn weather is far more exciting than the weather during the long and lazy summer days. It is clear that whoever wants to enjoy life on the island has to stay longer than the holiday season.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

@ Smitaki 2012

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