Walking on the wild side
This week: Climate change; Walking on the wild side; Getting ready for floor boarding; Garden life;
This week has been another cold week here in Dol, even though the sun is much higher in the sky now.
We are more than five degrees below the average temperature for this week.
Cold is of course good for some plants, but it is bad for others. The first flowers have appeared on the olive trees this week.
The week before Easter is always an important one on the island because of the religious processions. The main one is the overnight procession around villages in the central part of the island.
Everywhere the spring flowers are appearing. However it will only need some cold nights to damage the blossom on the fruit trees.
Thinking about the headline of this section, I was going to say “Climate change again”, however it isn’t “again”. or “still”, or “ongoing”, “continuing” etc.
Climate change is a part of our every day lives now. Eventually I decided on the simple headline of “climate change”.
This week it has been really cold. Well really cold for Dol in April!
This weather chart using data from my weather station provides and excellent illustration of how far below the “average” we currently are..
The temperature has been what we would have been expected in late January. But in Late January, the temperatures were those we would expect in March.
A couple of evenings this week when it was really cold, I briefly considered lighting the wood stove again. It is the only heating I have in the majority of my home.
However having cleaned the wood stove, ready for the next winter wood burning season, I decided not to light it.
The forecast for the next week is more of the same, with temperatures barely rising into the mid teens.
Climate change is real and affects all of us, everywhere in the world, but in different ways.
Also it seems that climate change is intensifying the weather we experience.
So heat events become stronger and longer lasting. Rain events become more intense, with more, heavier and longer lasting precipitation; stronger / fiercer storms which spawn tornados, away from areas of the world known for tornados; floods and other severe weather events are becoming normalised.
The seven year average temperature for this week of the year in Dol is 20ºC. The average temperature for the last week has been 10.4ºC, with some overnight lows down to 3.7ºC.
Walking on the wild side
Easter is always the first time that visitors begin to arrive after winter.
Although the tourist season is increasing in length, the period from New Year to Easter is always quiet with almost no visitors on the island.
Around my home there have been just the usual eight permanent residents in this part of the village.
When it has been cold, I have gone for several days without seeing anyone to speak to. Everyone has been hunkered down in front of their fires.
In the run up to the Easter weekend and the world famous and UNESCO Intangible Heritage “Procesija Za Križen” – Following the Cross procession, has seen the visitors start to arrive.
The processions follows a circular route, with a delegation from each village setting of at the same time and walking around the circuit.
The Cross Bearer is always bare-foot.
This traditional procession has been going on for more than 500 years and has been inscribed by UNESCO as Intangible World Heritage.
Several neighbours have arrived this week and I took a small group of four adults and four young people, for a nature ramble up through the Krušvice valley, on an 8 km circular walk.
In the valley bottom it was beautiful with carpets of wild flowers everywhere you looked.
We were sheltered from the wind and the sun was out making it feel warm. Climbing towards Svirče, the wind dropped making walking very pleasant.
Along the way we saw wildlife, wild flowers and I was especially pleased to find some Orchids.
This is the Naked Man orchid, Orchis Italica, so named because of the shape of the open flowers.
The tweenagers had never used a paper map, so it was an opportunity to introduce them to the skill of map reading, beyond the range of a mobile phone signal.
This is the time of year for wild flowers. Everything from wild Sweet Peas, to the endemic herbs; fennel, lavender and rosemary.
I think everyone had a good day!
Getting ready for floorboarding
Sometimes I am reminded of the song by Shakin’ Stevens about his house and how he didn’t have time to fix the windows and the floor!
The difference is that I have time, it is all about what job do I attack next?
This week it has been the uneven floor above the Konoba.
Having finished the staircase up to the hall, I now need to level the floor above the Konoba and then lay floorboards.
Several years ago I made a small tool to draw a “cutting line” on timber. This shows where it needs to be cut, so the bottom profile matches the uneven floor and the top is level.
This week I planed two long lengths of floor joists, so I had some flat surfaces to work with.
Next, it was to set the top of the new joist level and then to mark the side with my tool, giving me the uneven floor profile.
The third job – I can so quickly write this – was cutting the joist with my table saw.
Once the timber was cut, I manoeuvred the four metre length back into the hall for a level check.
It fitted perfectly, not that I had any doubts that it would. I have one more floor joist to mark and cut, then I can start cutting and fixing the hardwood floorboards.
While I had my thicknesser machine out, I also tried to smooth some cross sections of a tree I dug out last year.
The rounds have been seasoning all winter. The machine ripped off some of the bark which I had carefully preserved, but otherwise, it has made a good job of smoothing the rounds.
There is more work to do, but I am happy with the initial results and the grain looks lovely.
Citrus trees are susceptible to frost and cold. We get very little frost in Dol, but the cold northern Bura wind can damage them.
Every year in the early winter I wrap all the trees in my citrus orchard with shade netting to protect them from the wind.
I have oranges, lemons, grapefruits, mandarins and lime trees. Each variety has different levels of susceptibility, with the lemons being the most easily damaged.
Usually I remove the shade netting and pack it all away in March. However because we have had a succession of cold winds through most of March and into April, I have delayed removing the covering.
As the daytime temperatures slowly increase and most of the trees have blossom, I decided to remove the covers.
We really shouldn’t have very much more cold weather now.
It took a little over a day to undo all the reusable fastenings and then to carefully fold and store the netting. Each cover and each tree is numbered, so I know which cover goes where.
The pollinator can now easily reach all the flowers.
While I was removing the covered I disturbed a lot of insects.
There were a lot of these “gardeners friends”, Preying Mantis nymphs.
To give you an idea of their size, I could have got three of them on my little finger nail. They are the 1st Instar nymphs, newly hatched from the egg case.
Everywhere there are spring flowers. My grape vines will have a lot of grapes this year. I will soon need to thin out the crop.
Tulips do not do very well here in Dol. However the cold spring we have had seems to have encouraged them to bloom.
As I was photographing one, A small insect jumped onto a nearby lily leaf.
Looking very closely I saw that it was a Katydid nymph, also newly hatched and almost transparent.
Once again, this nymph is much smaller than my little finger nail.
On my Morello Cherry tree, there are butterflies galore.
There are large number of the Scarce Swallowtail, Iphiclides podalirius, flitting from blossom to blossom and drink nectar from each flower.
Meanwhile, where ever I am in the garden or orchards, several felines will be with me. Here Tigger has found another bug deep in the orchard ground cover.
My clump of Spanish Bluebells are at their best at the moment. Slowly, year by year, the clump is expanding.
Spring really is the nicest time of year for me, when the gardens and orchards change daily and there is an endless stream of things to see. NCG