We lived in New Mexico for twenty years and were very familiar with drought conditions as that state was in a perpetual need of rain. This past winter and spring, however, our friends in New Mexico were deluged with record moisture. Here in Ascoli Piceno it has been just the opposite.
All winter the locals kept telling us how cold, wet and miserable it would be but we never saw any snow in town. We had to drive into the nearby mountains to see snow. This spring and summer have been just as dry and now we are dealing with la siccita, a drought, and the associated problems that brings.
A couple weeks ago signs started to appear around town from the local water service announcing water use restrictions: no watering of gardens, lawns, washing cars, washing sidewalks, etc. We also had a flier in our water bill with water saving tips. From our time in New Mexico none of these ideas were new to us. Albuquerque even has what we called “the water police” which were city employees who would write citations to people who were watering their lawns in the middle of the day or had malfunctioning sprinkler systems spraying nearby pavement. The local water service here has also started turning off the water from midnight to six in the morning to conserve pressure in the system.
The drought has also produced a major fire danger. The highway between Ascoli Piceno and the Adriatic Coast has been closed on more than one occasion from fires along side the road. These of course were the result of careless drivers discarding their cigarettes out their car windows, according to the media. There are stretches along this highway of blackened trees and damaged road signs stretching several hundred yards.
Canadair tanker on Lago Campotosto
Several days the sky was hazy from smoke and we have had some ash settling in town due to several il incendio or forest fires in the nearby mountains. There is the regular droning of planes overhead as they use Canadair tankers to dip into the Adriatic Sea and nearby lakes and fly back into the mountains to dump their load of water. We have seen as many as four planes at a time in a line making the one hour round trip flight from fire to sea. This too is a familiar summer sound to us from our years in Albuquerque as the Rio Grande Valley is a regular flight path for water tankers flying between their base in Albuquerque and fires in the northern parts of the state.
Drives in the countryside show how dry it is with brown grass along the roads and amongst the olive trees. Some of the hardwood trees on the hillsides are already starting to turn brown and loose their leaves. We have heard that the grape harvest will be early this year as a result of the lack of moisture.
Britain is being deluged with rain while we are baking under cloudless skies, how we would so enjoy a few days of nothing but rain. I’m sure the British could use a few days of sunshine in return.