Our first winter in the northern hemisphere is almost upon us. For the time being, we are enjoying the tranquillity of autumn. Around the countryside, root vegetables have been dug up, grapes have been harvested, apples picked. “El Basco”, the local cider-maker, a flamboyant Basque character (hence the name!) with an impressive moustache, collected our apples last week, and will deliver free cider in payment.
The infamous Galician rain has begun to fall gently on stubbly fields that were scorched all summer by the sun, and are now cloaked in mist every morning. Birds from further north have arrived, and sing in the hedgerows. I saw my first Robins the other day, the heralds of Christmas tide – 58 days away, there is a promise of some frigid weather to accompany the festivities. We are not short of yule logs, since filling our new concrete woodshed yesterday with a delivery of well-seasoned castana (chestnut) and oak.
The morning temperatures have dropped to single figures, and today will peak at 9 centigrade. Last week’s peaks averaged 22, so we have bought hot-water bottles to warm our feet at night. The dog and cat occupy an armchair each, and enjoy the snuggly warmth of wood-fires. The dog sports a smart new quilted coat in chocolate brown. The cat has gained weight, and eats five meals a day when she can persuade one of us that she is truly hungry, and not faking it.
We are getting used to carrying logs in. The additional exercise is welcome. In Australia, we simply pointed the remote and pressed a button, to activate A/C or heat. This is all very new, and very different. Conversations in cafes automatically turn to how people are preparing for the oncoming cold. Already in parts of Asturia and Cantabria there has been snow. Maybe our first Spanish Christmas will be white?