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The end of spring in Giove

Spring is almost over in Giove and everyone is catching up.

Everywhere the comune is cleaning the grass skirting the edge of the road with a weed-whacker. Something startles the orange clad and masked workman. Looking non-plussed he has killed a snake. He stares at me shame-facedly, as if to say I didn’t mean to; that is, I don’t want any more bad luck this year.

Winter work in June

Old men are out cutting down trees and burning the thick foliage, a March task. The grass was mown and baled, however, as soon as lockdown was over. A new crop is well on its way. Gardens look well-tended and opulent with roses. Vegetable plots along the hillside an overflowing with potatoes and zucchini.

No hunters this late winter. A family of wild boar living in the abandoned fields next to our house has multiplied. They have become astonishingly bold. Six piglets with mottled and brown stripped bellies head butt each other while the brazen adults snuffle for roots and all else. A week ago, I saw twenty of them foraging in the over-grown adjacent vineyard. By this time next year there’ll be a fifty or more. A pine marten ventured past too. Silvio, our gardener, had no word for the creature, such is its rarity. Surprise, surprise, then I saw another.

Wild boar wander through our pergola

Migratory birds seem to be multiplying too. Golden oriels, hoopoes, big kites and falcons. They’ve brought a new pleasure to a countryside which had privileged small farmers and their shot-gun mad mania. Seeing the alarm on the comune worker who had killed the snake, the pandemic may have caused a re-think on our relationship with our natural world.

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