On my computer screen I have a widget that gives me a weather summary of Moscufo (PE), Abruzzo and also one of Dublin, Ireland. I like to keep track. Today, for both places the temperature is around 8 degrees (centigrade) with clear sunny skies. But the similarity ends once you look at the detail. There isn’t an ounce of wind in Abruzzo while we here in Dublin are feeling a 37 km/h wind from the WSW with a chill factor of 4 degrees. Now 8 degrees in the sun on a calm clear day sounds attractive to me right now as I’m soon going to head out into a biting wind.
I’ve visited Abruzzo twice in January. Once I was there to ring in the New Year and the other occasion I had a last minute chance opportunity to visit, so I took it. What else could I do?
When I was there the first time in January the snow was heavy on the mountains, the sunrises and sunsets where wonderful and the night sky was simply spectacular. I expect looking SW around 22:00 tonight Orion, Gemini and Canis Major will be in full view. I admit I’ve sipped Liquore di Genziana while boring anybody who’d listen about how to find other stars by looking at Orion. Don’t get me started!
That’s certainly one of the things I love about the smaller towns in Abruzzo. After the sun goes down you can find spots away from the houses and street lights and stare at the heavens. Inspiring! Of course there’s no shortage of places in the world where you can contemplate the stars, but you won’t be sipping Genziana while you do it.
When I think of Abruzzo in January it isn’t the clear skies that I think of first, it isn’t the winter sun that can cast long shadows and offer great photo opportunities, and it isn’t the almost imperceptible feeling that there’s a bit of a stretch in the evenings. (The days are getting longer, honest.)
No, when I think of Abruzzo in January I think of wandering around villages catching the smell of wood smoke gently spilling out from chimneys.
I love that smell. I’d wrap up warm, with a coat, scarf, gloves and probably a very silly looking hat and walk around the old town taking in the scent of smoke from warming fires. It’s uplifting. I think the smell is more intense on calm January days because the wind doesn’t grab it and take it away. On calm days the air seems to hang heavy and the wood smoke seems to pour down the tiled rooftops like treacle. I bet today is one of those days.
Bare trees, heavy jackets, bright winter sun, crystal clear skies all spell winter. Sometimes those clear skies and the low winter sun can be replaced by grey clouds with rolling fog or mist – grey, on grey, on grey. The damp and the cold together, making it very tempting to stay indoors and forget about the outside world. But with all of this there is also that smell, that fragrance, that sweet odour that seems to wrap you and the old town up in a warm blanket. That January feeling – hard to capture in a photograph.