A couple of weeks ago it felt as though spring had finally arrived after what seems to have been the longest, most bitter winter I’ve spent in Italy.
All the signs were there: the almond tree came out in blossom; there were promising buds on the cherry; new shoots were sprouting on the elms; even the persimmon, which I thought had given up the ghost, sprang back to life. Yet something was missing…
Then, winter returned with a vengeance. Back out came the jumpers, coats and extra layers. Would it ever end?
What was missing was the return of the House Martins. Just when I was beginning to think they’d abandoned us, I saw the first little chap.
That was two days ago. How do they know? Why didn’t they come back when they usually do? Did someone tip them off? Do they send an advance scout to check out the situation? Are they sitting there in North Africa, or the Costa Del Sol tuned in to the weather forecast? What is it?
Whatever this instinct is – and it’s darn clever – they must be the guys who pass this information on to the Hoopoes (Upupa epops), because yesterday they came back too. I saw the first one in the afternoon and this morning, heard his distinctive call joining those of the Martins and the many, many who stay with us all year round, come rain or shine.
The Martins stay all summer, but the Hoopoes only take a short holiday here (two weeks at most) before moving further north. It’s odd, because I never see them on their return journey. Maybe they prefer to stay in Provence rather than Le Marche for their autumn holidays.
I don’t have a photo of the Upupa, because he keeps taking me off-guard and is rather shy and very elusive. If I’m lucky, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, here is a good link.
Next year, I’m going to ignore the calendar and take my cue from the House Martins and the Hoopoes. They know better than anyone when winter is over and spring begins.
This post is for my lovely American friend D. We met 30 years ago when we both lived in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – Paris. You asked about spring in Le Marche – this is my answer. See you in June!!!