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Uncanny weather

We have been enjoying sunny mild weather, and here above town warmer than the weather forecast predicts. It has been wonderful for working: I'm still down in the woods every day, cutting down scraggly willows, chopping up fallen branches, and reducing the height of fast growing, brittle maples. My helper was out with me again yesterday, working with his constant good will and very helpful strength and energy. We were talking as we worked, and I asked him what he would do if he, say, won a huge lottery prize and didn't have to work to earn a living any more. After considering the question for a while, he said he'd get a piece of woodland to work on so he had something to do, as idleness is just not a possibility (luxury has evidently never crossed his mind). It was refreshing.

The weather is uncanny. January is not supposed to be like this. It's supposed to be dark, gray, chilly, depressing, miserable, with temperatures in the thirties day after day and never a sight of the sun. It's supposed to be raining and possibly snowing, though the years of deep snow appear to be for the most part past. Instead, the Tea roses have never stopped blooming since fall, and now the Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' is opening and I'm seeing a few sweet violets. Their normal season is March.

The stable high pressure system has had its usual nasty effect on air quality. The Po Plain has some of the worst air pollution in Europe, and with no precipitation in cold weather particulate and carbon monoxide levels have risen to unhealthy levels. Air quality in Piacenza, where DD goes today for an exam, is at Code Orange. She's looking around for a mask. We're a bit better off here, higher and--I hope--benefiting from the green with which I've surrounded our house, though perhaps that doesn't matter. The nearby hills are shaded gray-blue by the air pollution; the air over the Plain has a dirtier brownish tinge.

What worries me most, though, is the thought of summer. It has gone from hot and dry when we first moved here to very hot, and muggier, too hot for just about any kind of activity. And now we have tiger mosquitoes, active during the day, making it hard to sit under the pergola outdoors. I suppose it means bug spray when we step outdoors now, but what a pain. I just don't know what kind of summer heat this weirdly mild winter is a prelude to.

Back to the woods! I need to continue clearing brush so that the good trees can grow. More green! More green!

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