I’m on holiday in Sicily at the moment. It is very pleasant to get out of the constant rain of London. You may have read that, early this year, the water companies in England issued a ‘hose pipe ban’ meaning that no one was allowed to use a hose (for watering the garden, washing the car, etc.). It was OK to use a watering can or a bucket, but no hose. The ban was imposed after two years of ‘exceptional drought’. Almost as soon as the ban was imposed, it started to rain, and it has been raining almost constantly since! During one day last week, there was one month’s rain that fell in one region of England. There has been a lot of flooding, the reservoirs are overflowing, and the ban has been lifted.
I’ve been in Sicily just over a week, and there has been bright sunshine every day. No rain. It’s quite hot: 35 degrees C (97 F) during the day and 25 degrees C (79 F) at night, but there’s no need for air conditioning at night. There’s always a cool breeze. In my experience Sicily doesn’t experience the 90%+ humidity that the East Coast of the US often gets in summer. My sister, who lives in Philadelphia, told me on Sunday that she was in for another ‘100 – 100 day’, meaning 100 degrees F and near 100% humidity.
Here the sea is refreshing, and the food is simple but excellent.
My wife and I are here with my older step-daughter and her three children: two boys, 3 1/2 and 2, and a girl 6 months. They are lovely kids, but a bit of a handful. So, with the shopping, gardening, general handyman work, swimming, cooking, and playing with the children, I’ve had very little time to write. I forgot to mention that I’m reading a novel by Susan Sontag (The Volcano Lover) and also working on a needlepoint belt for my son-in-law. Moreover, when the kids are in the house, it can be quite noisy and distracting. As a result, during the first week I was here, I did little more than finish the last few pages of a chapter 0f novel no. 5.
But recently, and happily, I’ve found a solution. The kids have a ‘quiet time’ from 1:30 until 3:30. They can either sleep or watch videos. That time gives me an excellent window in which to work: it’s quiet, too hot to be in the sun, and the shops in Sicily are closed from about 1:30 until 4:30. (Then they re-open until 8.) Actually, when the children go to the pool at 3:30, I can stay behind for another hour, avoiding the still intense sun, and writing.
So, the last few days I’ve been able to write two pages a day, which is not far off my pace at home, and besides: my objective had been to finish chapter 7 and write chapter 8 while in Sicily. I think I might be able to do it!