Early yesterday morning I jogged along a mountain track in the Tramuntanas shadowed by a large thunder cloud that leered down at me all the way up the hill until it was quite certain that I was nowhere near shelter. Then it struck. Seconds later I was deluged by rain as lightning flashed across the sky, the mountains bellowed and a wild wind whistled in my ears.
Thirty minutes later, sodden and pink cheeked I squelched back home through the back streets of Soller to gasps from locals who tapped their heads and told me I was a ‘loca’. Nothing new there. The rest of the morning rain swept the valley until a blue sky pushed away the clouds and a streak of hazy sunlight wriggled its way across the horizon.
It’s the same every year here in Majorca. A barmy September and October with a few warning storms and then woosh, winter gallops into town. The nights draw in, tourists scuttle back home and those left behind
locals, and foreigners who’ve chosen to reside here often succumb to that annual malaise known as ’island-it-is’. One of the symptoms is that the island suddenly seems too dark, too cold, too small, too, dare I say, dull?
Today in Soller town I encountered several Majorcans who gleefully told me that they were planning to get away from the island as soon as possible now that the tourism season was coming to a close. They grumbled about the onset of winter, the dark nights, chilly air and lack of excitement. The lady in the toy shop was off to the mainland, my bank manager to Rome, the owner of a local fish restaurant had just closed for the winter and was off to New York, another to Madrid and several expat friends have already upped sticks and headed off to warmer climes. But I’m staying put.
In truth I love the winters here in rural Majorca, the crisp aromatic air, the silence and utter sense of peace. Ghost like, our rickety old tram clatters through Soller town’s plaça, a huddle of locals peering out from the clouded windows at denuded plane trees and subdued cafés. At home we build log fires, sweep up the crisp leaves on the porches and don big sweaters for mountain hikes. Despite the chill, blue skies prevail and a tentative cool sun is never far away.
The mountain roads are quiet and frosted, the touring cyclists long gone and in the smaller villages many a hotel, restaurant and café closes its shutters until Spring. This is Majorcan hibernation and yet life in the towns continues albeit at a slower pace. Fiestas of one kind or another loom large and before we know it Christmas has arrived full of local fun and good cheer.
I’ve noticed that my hens seem happier now that the cooler weather’s arriving. They have a new spring in their step, their eggs are getting larger and plush feathers are covering up their bald patches. Although the frogs have done a runner
off on some extended amphibian vacation the cats are holding out and enjoying their new duvet like pelts and a chance to curl up by the fire of an evening while we toast our toes and quaff some delicious and robust vino tinto.
So while everyone’s desperate to leave, I’m happy to stay right where I am watching Tom and Jerry with the cats and reading Chicken Licken to my feathered friends in the coop. Ah bliss.
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