Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sirocco Wind and Saharan Sand ~ Springtime in Greece

The sky turned as gray as if a rainstorm was headed our way.  The air was humid and heavy. The temperature, climbing.

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Gray sand-filled skies made for an odd sunset

The Sirocco, as the wind that blows from the North African desert is known, was blowing sand from the Sahara. As it darkened the horizon and dirtied the house, we knew spring had arrived and we were on our way to summer in our area of the Greek Peloponnese.

It is the most wonderful miserable weather imaginable, to my way of thinking. And I love it, simply because I am here to experience it! 

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Scirocco sunset, left, regular sunset, right

For so many years I’ve read books set in the Mediterranean – novels, travelogues and those real-life tales written by ex pats -- that have told of the winds and the sand and I found the whole concept so . . .well, . . .exotic.  I really hadn't thought about the dirt.

The Sirocco originates amid the dry, dusty conditions of North African, bringing sand from the Sahara Desert. As it makes its way north it adds a fair bit of humidity and by the time it reaches Italy, France, Spain, or Greece it is packing a warm wallop of dirt and dust.  Housecleaning is a waste of time when the Sirocco is in town. And you certainly don’t want to hang laundry out to dry either. It is too hot to do much else. So you sit and watch the dust blow (just like all those things I'd read had said).

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Sirocco greeting 2016 en route home from Athens
Our introduction to this weather phenomenon was a year ago when we were driving from Athens to The Mani and instead of the magnificent blue sky and stretches of green fields we are accustomed to passing through, we drove into a sand ‘fog’ bank.

Luckily in our area the winds and their sands seem to last no more than a few days.  Enough time for me to experience the exotic that I’d dreamt of and enough time to dirty up everything and move on.

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May Day 2017 in Greece
All sorts of signs of spring giving way to summer have been evident in The Mani the last few weeks.  And most of those signs were far more beautiful than the blowing African sands.  For example, on May 1st, nearly every home and business sported a beautiful hand-made wreath (some cars even have them affixed to the hood).  They are sure signs of spring.

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Nasturtium carpets in the olive groves 
Another sign is that the nasturtium has begun carpeting fields and trees in the area (well, everywhere but at our house where my attempts to get them to grow have again failed.)

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Baby Kalamatas (those little dots between the leaves) have appeared on the triees
The olives – Kalamata olives – are but mere pinpricks in size in the spring.

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Fisherman leaves the port of Agios Nikolaos
The fishing fleets are out in full force and the pleasure craft are beginning to appear in harbors and ports that dot this coastal area.

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Limeni Harbor to our south
We are basking – sometimes baking – in temperatures this week that are nearing 90F and 32 –34C.  Spring might well be giving way to an early summer. . .here in this exotic Mediterranean that I’ve for so long imagined.  You know? Sometimes reality is even better than one’s imagination!

20160331_081316 [1378312]That’s it from The Stone House on the Hill this week. Hope whatever season you are experiencing in your part of the world that it is a lovely one. 

I'm a bit late posting this week as we’ve been busy with our adopted (as in, she-adopted-us) Mom Cat, pictured left in a very pregnant state last year.

For those not on FB, Mom has been a regular at our place for nearly two years, either about to give birth or with nursing kittens. She gave birth to three  kittens in early April and all died a few weeks ago. The sad situation had a golden lining as we finally had a window of time while we were here to get “Mom” fixed.  She had surgery on Thursday and we’ve been busy watching over her (doting) ever since.  The vet told us she was already pregnant with four kittens so the surgery was a bit more than expected. She is, I am happy to report (knock on wood) doing well. And, 'Mommy' Cat has become 'Maggie' Cat.

Safe travels to you and yours ~ and as always, thanks for the time you spend with us!

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

31 comments:

  1. Springtime in Greece sounds wonderful.

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    1. It is a fabulous time to be here. . .and the wind and sand only add a bit of the exotic to it! Thanks for stopping by!!

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  2. All the springtime scenes you describe of Greece are very familiar to us, your neighbours to the south, Jackie. When I first came to Crete, I had no idea what the south winds (as the Cretans call them) were and I actually thought we were experiencing a kind of sandy hurricane! Well, almost 30 years later, I now can even sense them coming!

    Still, you are surrounded by such beauty and the sweet company of Maggie Cat that, the season, I'm certain, is breezy and bright.

    Happy weekend,
    xxx
    Poppy

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    1. My post did prompt several responses from those of us who are living in Greece. Not everyone found my wind to be exotic. Ha, ha, ha! Give me a few years, and I will also probably feel the same way. Belated Happy Mother's Day, Poppy!

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  3. Don't think I could handle more than a couple days of dirt filled wind. Glad you could help Mommy become Maggie.

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    1. It was beyond time for Mom to become Maggie and although we were sorry she lost her kittens, we are glad she won't need to go through that any longer (neither will we!).

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  4. I can just imagine Joel in his nurse's uniform! Only 90 degrees? It was 97 here yesterday. We're still acclimatising. But at least for a few weeks I won't be packing either luggage or boxes. Good luck with Maggie the moggie.

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    1. Oh good heavens. It was so hot here (and far less hot than there) that I spent the afternoon in front of the fan reading Bill's book. . .such a delightful way to spend the afternoon that I did the same thing today!

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  5. Happy to hear you are experiencing life to the fullest at your new home in Greece.
    Maggie cat looks like a wonderful pet
    Helen x

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    1. Well, Maggie we hope will live a bit longer and a more healthy life as result of last week's surgery. She's doing better this week so we are feeling a bit less guilty about the process. Hope you are having a good spring, Helen! xx J.

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  6. Love your sunset photos. I think the heat would drive me nuts, but there's something magical about those winds. Reminds me of the mistrals in the south of France. Crazy strong, but, as you say, exotic!

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    1. Springtime heat isn't bad, even with the sirocco bringing sand from Africa. And somehow just know it is 'that' wind bringing 'that' sand, I do love it, even at its worst.

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  7. Hello, lovely photos from Greece. I like the sky shots, pretty flowers and tree, the May Day images and fishing boat are all lovely scenes. Sorry about the kittens but it is best the momma was fixed. Enjoy your day and week ahead!

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    1. Thanks for the visit Eileen. Yes, Mom/Maggie cat is on the rebound this week and actually purred and played with a length of rope -- two things we'd never seen her do before!

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  8. Ah yes, the dreaded Scirocco. I hate the dust it brings with it. We've just had three days of it here in the central Mediterranean. I hope it won't return too soon.

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    1. Loree, thanks for leaving a comment. . .as a result I have just signed up to follow your blog! We had only two days and one little shot of it later, knock-on-wood, it won't return until next spring!

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  9. Ah ha - a meaning to the word. I never knew what sirocco meant. At least springtime is pretty where you are right now.

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    1. It really is stunning in Greece in the springtime. . .even when dust clouds envelop the area! Thanks for the visit Rhonda!

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  10. Beautiful springtime shots from Greece.

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    1. Thanks much Rajesh. . .glad you enjoyed them.

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  11. I've been in the Phoenix area when winds bring in dust and I found it very easy to visualize your Sirocco experience. Even without the winds, I found things got so much dustier there than I was used to. The rest of your spring looks absolutely beautiful!

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    1. Yes, another friend who lives in Phoenix also wrote about this dust and I told her it was nothing compared to the dust storms that strike their area in August and September!

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  12. I agree that novelists rarely mention "dirt was everywhere" when describing those exotic Sirocco winds. I like the image of nasturtium carpeting everything. Better luck with growing it yourself, and bless you for fixing Maggie Cat.

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    1. Thanks for your comment on Maggie Cat. She actually tried playing the other day. Poor little thing has always been pregnant or mothering and finally has a bit of spark and spunk in her. It was a joy to watch her go at it!

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  13. I love the flower wreaths and the vibrant colors of the nasturtiums and it looks like spring is making way for summer in your part of the world. It must feel a bit surreal to think that the particles of sand that arrive in your home come from North Africa! Our part of Portugal must be out of the way of this weather phenomenon but it was fascinating to read about it (and much better not to have to deal with it's offerings!) Maggie cat looks perfectly happy and content, too!

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    1. Hey there - our spring really is beautiful around here, aside from the occasional rain or dust storm. So nice, that we've extended our stay for a couple weeks. . .YAY!

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  14. How exciting you are living in Greece and that you are embracing every season; every experience. Your photos certainly tell the majestic story of springtime in Greece!!

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    1. Well, still part-timers in Greece so we've only had a taste of summer and winter, but springtime and fall are simply magic - that's for sure!

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  15. Jackie is this the first time that you will be spending summer in Greece? You will be in for a surprise. Most importantly you will have to go to the beach at least once. I know that you love your Stone House on the Hill and I certainly can't blame you because it is a dream house, but the water is like no other in the world. As for those Sirocco winds, thank goodness they are gone. It was unbearable for those few days.

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