Right as rain October 20, 2007


October 20, 2007 The weather has finally turned here in Sarnano. A light dusting of snow is visible on the Sibillini Mountains any time that the clouds lift. Here in Sarnano, snow had been in the forecast, but a later forecast dropped any mention. [And just when I write that sentence, I look out and see that the rain is now mixed with snow. So much for the accuracy of the local forecasts!

The moisture is definitely welcome in the region. On the recent Abruzzo-Croatia tour, we witnessed all too often the effects of the summer drought. Undoubtedly, you read about the wildfires in Greece, and perhaps the ones around Dubrovnik. The Abruzzo also suffered as we saw evidence of brush and forest fires wherever we went. In almost every case, the fires were attributed to arson rather than natural causes, thus confirming yet again just how thin the veneer of civilization actually is.

And while I’m on uncivilized subjects, I will bring up, yet again, the dollar. On Friday, it closed at $1.4302 = €1.00, an all-time low for a weekly close. The weak dollar even impacts airline ticket prices. A case in point: I started feeling the urge to fly back to the states for Thanksgiving. For the first time since coming to Sarnano, I won’t have any American friends around to share the holiday. I went to the British Airline web page and found a ticket for €850.00. I got all excited until the dawning hit–the price was in euro. When I switched it to dollars, it came out to $1150. Forget it. Thanksgiving dinner this year will consist of no football, no American guests, a slice or two of turkey breast, sweet potatoes, a veggie and some cranberry sauce. Oh yes, and some excellent local red wine.

Earlier I mentioned the airlines, I could very easily add to the diatribe–high fares, late flights, missed connections, overcrowded flights and terminals, late arriving luggage and so on. But instead I would like to mention two very positive recent developments–E-tickets and non-smoking flights. Think about it–life is better now that (usually) you don’t have to worry about losing insignificant pieces of paper. Nor do you arrive at your destination having inhaled second hand smoke for nine hours after a determined smoker two rows in front of you has lit up cigarette after cigarette during the flight. Small beans to be sure, but I am looking for silver linings here.

Life will get better. Airlines are starting to order more planes again so maybe the overcrowding of flights will be lessened. There will be a change of administration in a little over a year, and whether you are a red or a blue, you have to acknowledge that any change will undoubtedly help the dollar.

The clouds have lifted over the Sibillini and I see that there is even more snow on the peaks. I may have to turn on the heat tonight. (back)