This year, the summer was exceptional. Nearly four months without rain and an intense, unrelenting sun that caused rivers to almost dry up, worry over the grape harvest, fruit trees to suffer and grass so scorched it was almost brittle to the touch. Even the mixed success of the olive harvest was also attributed to the lack of water.
While we revelled in hot days and an extended summer, we knew deep down that it was not wholly a good thing and that we would be paying for it later; it was only a matter of time. Yesterday, that day came. Continuous driving rain with winds of what felt like gale-force strength sent it beating against our windows all day and all night. It had actually started the evening before and steadily grew in intensity. We rescued our glass topped garden table just in time while the wind whipped the rest of the furniture around the terrace. For the first time in a long time, we could hear the gushing water in the soakaway under our house. Our orto has turned into a swamp and the water in the well is now seeping out at ground level. Elsewhere, shutters have been ripped open, a telegraph pole blown almost sideways and fallen trees have created obstacles in the roads.
Today we go to check on the river. The trickling stream in the middle of the river bed that we have got so used to seeing, has now become a raging torrent, spreading across the banks and racing towards the sea at a speed we have never witnessed before. It is good to see the river so full in one sense, but the volume of water in so short a time is frightening. I can’t help wondering if further along its path, it has not been so well contained. We hear talk of a bridge nearby that is at risk of collapse; we know this can happen. A year before we moved here a bridge on the main road was washed away after a similar level of rainfall, albeit over a longer period. Then, a build up of roots, trees and other debris in the river, jammed against the bridge, creating a dam that when it broke, took the bridge with it. It is hard to imagine the force of water that is required to move something so solid.
We are now having two days of respite before another two of wind and rain. We will be battening down the hatches once more and all eyes will be on that bridge.