I would have loved to write this blog about spring: a new year, a new adventure, a new life. But unfortunately I can’t …it’s brass monkeys outside and we expect snow; again. Germans say that it is cold like a pig, (saukalt), French would use the word duck (froid de canard) or wolf (froid de loup), whereas Italians refer to dogs. “Fa un freddo cane”! And, in fact, it is really freezing cold!
About thirty years ago I moved to Italy and before leaving my country, I gave my fur jacket to my sister who lives in the colder part of Germany. Italy is kissed by the deities and the sun! I would walk around with sandals all year long and, just in case, a jersey would have been more than sufficient to protect me from cold. And this is what actually happened during my first years in Tuscany. One – sorry – a Northerner was perfectly fine, dressed like this, and it was quite funny to see Italian women covered up to their eyes with long fur coats wearing stylish boots. At that time, I did not know that their exhibiting furs had nothing to do with low temperatures…
Slowly, slowly, season after season, probably also due to different nutrition and spoilt by the favourable weather conditions here, I changed. No sandals any more from October to at least March, – no fur! – but warm coats and super thick sweaters and winter shoes to protect me from the freezing cold which could go down to 5 – 7° C (41 – 45° F) …above zero. I know it sounds ridiculous, I passed my youth coping with 10, 15 degrees under zero (14 – 5°F) and I was perfectly fine, busy making snowmen or fighting snowball matches, even driving up to the Swiss mountains with summer wheels and no chains. The truth is that I have turned into a Mediterranean creature, unable to handle the cold and the second winter of snow in succession. Before this, we have had a terribly snowy winter in 1984, and Tuscany did not expect it. In fact, there was no snow plough, no salt, no snow sweeper, no snow shoes and Italian women had to make the bitter experience that stylish boots may be trendy, but definitely not useful. With the actual snowfall we were a little more ready… there still was no snow plough, no snow sweeper, no snow shoes but a fair quantity of salt had been spread – after a couple of days. Italian men discovered that this year, gaudy, expensive and super modern snow chains are an absolute must – in their cars, not necessarily around their wheels. Through TV, people had been invited to stay at home and to avoid travelling. In fact, the highways were completely jammed… kilometres and kilometres of vehicles without chains and people who had been forced to use their car exactly that day.
I am an awful trustworthy German: if I am told not to use my car, I won’t do it. And then, my thoughtless youth has been replaced by a more reasonable way of living. I would not drive without winter wheels or chains and as I lack in both I had to stay at home. There was nothing to do but to go for long walks through the (Tuscan) snow which made me remember who I am and where I come from. The traces in the snow introduced me to neighbours I did not know to have… deers, porcupines, beech martens and a lot of birds, who accept things like they are. Let me be reasonable, too. After all, Tuscan freddo cane is not so bad and I am confident that spring will come!!
March 5, 2011
Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany