My wife has always had a pre-disposition towards hay fever, without ever having had a full-blown bout of it. This past week she's been sneezing for Greece and only today we decided why. Spring is busting out all over. The orchard is full of trees sprouting buds and blossoms, the air has finally begun to warm up in preparation for the summer and the skies are bluer than blue. The bees are once again buzzing around our makeshift bird bath and we've seen the first swallows a swooping and a swirling above. it's 24ºC outside, yippee.
The forecasts are not showing any appreciable risk of rain for quite a while, which is a pity because a shower or two overnight would be ideal now. The log burner has burned its last log until some time next December and we're already weeding like crazy out in the garden.
Over in the orchard there are blossoms either fully out or bursting to do so on orange, lemon, apricot, plum and almond trees. The pomegranate is coming into leaf and so is the fig. It's all looking decidedly promising.
If we don't see some decent fruit on some of those trees this year I'll eat my hat. Shouldn't be too difficult, it's made of straw. I won't get caught like that again. Even dental floss wasn't enough to get all that cotton out from between my teeth the last time.
Tell you one thing, I'm not going near any of those trees with a watering can while the flowers are blooming. Not after the ear-bashing I got from Mihalis the agrotis the last time (check out this post).
Of course, there is another aspect to this time of the year that's not quite so welcome. The wildlife begins to stir. OK, so some of it's cuddly and cute, like the lizards that are already starting to bask on warm rocks and stones in the sunlight, the toads that come out at night and the tree frogs. The blackbirds are singing in the early evening and last Sunday, while we were driving along a dirt track to visit some friends, we had to stop and wait for a Hoopoe to finish a dust bath.
No, the problem with the wildlife (the livestock if you like - see chapter 2 of "Tzatziki For You to Say"), is the eight-legged variety. Those big stripey ones that can run like the clappers are once more out and about and presumably searching for a mate. Twice this week we've opened our shutters to have one drop on to the sill within inches of us, or even worse, into the runners that the windows slide along, and frighten the living daylights out of us. They just love lurking in the shutters, between the shutter and the mozzie net, while they're closed. Wind the shutter up in the morning and - plop! Instant heart failure.
They also like to spin their silky white, pod-like webs in the channels of the mozzie net frames, which means that to be safe you have to take them out now and again and run a big screwdriver along the channel.
If one gets into the window runners it's a real problem getting at them because you have to try and get a kitchen utensil that will be narrow enough to probe the channel and then flick the fiend out, while the beast is trying to make itself as small as it can (and failing miserably) at one end or the other. If you flick it wrongly it could well fly inwards, into the house instead of outwards, thus enabling one to slide the window shut with as much despatch as one can without shattering the glass in the process. If it does come inward though, it'll just as likely gather its senses and run like the wind into the gap under your sofa and thus necessitate a major reorganisation of the furniture in the process of making the house safe again.
Roll on our first resident gecko of the year. Nowadays we usually end up with at least one sweet little semi-translucent gecko living under the dining table and we're fine with that. Geckos are like nature's nocturnal vacuum cleaners for creepy crawlies. If you have a resident gecko you can often forget worrying about spiders giving you the jitters indoors after dark. They will patrol the walls and floors all night long for their occasional reward of a juicy insect or arachnid. Just be careful when going to the loo at three o'clock in the morning though. Stepping on Gordon the gecko can ruin his night.
Anyway, must be off. The better half needs a tissue (or atishoo, neat eh?) ...