Last night I lay in bed with the windows wide open, listening to the melodious croak-cum-quack of our vociferous frogs in the pond below, the night-time chatter of the cicadas and the excitable crowing of our cockerels. The air was balmy and rich with the fragrance of lavender and jasmine. What was going on? Wasn’t this November?
Normally at this time of year my flock of hens and cockerels would have bedded down in their corral as soon as the sun melted on the horizon and my beloved frogs would have packed their bags and headed off for their annual holiday until returning in the spring. And yet summer is still hanging on by its fingernails refusing to give way to crisp autumnal mornings when usually ghostly white frost kisses the orchards and fields and swirling white mist descends on the lower reaches of the Tramuntana mountains.
As I stood on my porch contemplating in some wonder the profusion of bougainvillea, lavender and roses in the front courtyard, Juan, the maintenance man arrived for his annual check of our boiler. After exchanging news and kisses on both cheeks – as one does with the boiler man in our valley- we discussed the all important subject of the weather. Walking out into the sunshine with a huge smile on his face, Juan spread out his arms and announced that this was the Verano de San Martin, or what others might term, an Indian summer.
My mind raced back to the time, thirteen years previously, when – almost to the day – our old finca had been lashed by gales and torrential rain. The electricity gave up the ghost for ten days meaning that we had no water or working pumps for that matter so we couldn’t even flush the lavatories. The internet had died the death and our telephones no longer functioned. Our young son was unable to attend school as our track and land were flooded so merrily ferried himself around the lemon and orange trees in a dinghy, thinking Christmas had arrived early. As storms shook the shutters and lightning streaked across the brooding sky, kind locals offered us safe harbour, hot soup and showers.
Such a maelstrom has never struck since and, fingers firmly crossed, can be relegated to a dark and distant memory bank. Now, instead, it seems a new era has arrived thanks to old San Martin. Of course, the good saint doesn’t herald glad tidings for everyone. The matanza, swine slaying, that takes place annually during the winter months in Majorca and across Spain, historically happened on St Martin’s day. And surely there can’t be a piggy in the land whose poor little trotters aren’t all of a quiver come the autumn. In fact Juan the boiler man reeled off a popular local refrain as he took his leave which was, a cada cerdo le llega su San Martin, meaning that every pig has its St Martin. Who knows, but if our Indian summer continues, it could just save our piggies’ bacon.
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