Comings and Goings

So now I'm back in Italy and struggling to unite body and soul in one place and one time again.  I have a long list of things I need to get done before I go back to England again next week - we're driving the car through Europe to deliver a sculpture and then put the car through its yearly health check.  Then it has to be driven back and a few days later I'm off to New Zealand.  All this toing and froing isn't good for me - I know this - and it isn't good for the planet either.  I dread to think what my carbon footprint looks like and it's no longer possible to argue that the way we live isn't having a major effect on the planet.

Italy is in the grip of turbulent weather - the wettest, coolest summer since records began.  I've only been back a few days and we've had thunderstorms that raged for more than 12 hours, bucket loads of rain, alternating with warm, sunny intervals.  The olive groves, usually brown and crisp at this time of year, are green.  There are very few olives left - most battered from the branches by the wind and rain. And the figs aren't as good as usual -  loads of them but flavourless and not as ripe as they should be. Last night it rained again. This afternoon is sunny, but already the rain clouds are building up on the horizon out over the Mediterranean.  A lot of this is blamed on the unusual behaviour of the Jetstream which is dragging warm air off the Atlantic across southern Europe.  But it's also the case that hot air is regularly coming up from Africa across a warm, wet Mediterranean mopping up the moisture and then shedding it over the mountains.
The jet stream this week - splitting in two directions
The Med is warming faster (and becoming more polluted) than other seas because it is small, shallow and more enclosed than others.  We've witnessed mass strandings and huge blooms of jelly fish in the past year or so and friends with boats report that  predators like barracuda are beginning to proliferate, and other species of warm water fish have been seen sneaking in from the Red Sea via Suez.  The ecology is changing fast.

But at least if it's raining I'm not tempted to spend too much time lazing in the sun.  I'm trying to finish my Italian stories - working name 'The Piazza' - before I go off to New Zealand.  Ten of the stories are complete, but there are two more still in bits and pieces of ragged prose.  I write in a patchwork kind of way, scribbling little scenes and then stitching them all together.  The last story is the most difficult, because it has to unite the other eleven and round it all off.
The Piazza, cover painting by Alexander Kleinloh

Then there's the submissions - one of my new resolutions is to try to submit more work to magazines and competitions.  It's good to have deadlines for completion and it's also good to have targets. Magazines and publishers these days tend to have 'windows' for submissions to prevent the editors from being swamped all year round by desperate authors.  So I'm trying to be very organised. Magma is a really good magazine for poetry, and then there's Bare Fiction, which has just begun. I've also recently discovered The Moth.   So far the submissions seem to be paying off - about 50% rejections, but the other 50% is very satisfying.  Two poems in the new issue of Domestic Cherry and a couple of stories in an Australian anthology coming out next year.  I've just got to do more!

Ironically I'm reading The Book of Silence by Sara Maitland, which is an analysis of solitude (though she doesn't distinguish between silence and solitude clearly enough).  At the moment, I could do with more of both, but I have as much chance of getting it as a raindrop does of surviving in hell!.


  1. The effect we are having on the environment is frightening.

    Deforestation down here in Oz is a real problem, especially in QLD. And our already unpredictable climate seems even more extreme.

    1. What's frightening Al, is the speed of the change. Not in slow decades, but in years and even months!


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