We have had snow this week. Not a lot, and it sooned turned back to rain, but for a few hours the world turned white.
It wasn't unexpected. The first two weeks of January are usually the coldest of the year here, although tradition has it that it should be the last three days of the month which have the bitterest weather. They even have a name - i giorni della merla, or the days of the blackbird. The legend goes that the blackbird was once white, and feared the cold of January so much that one year he decided to lay in a stock of food and spend the whole month holed up in the shelter of an empty tree. At the time, January had only twenty eight days, and on the twenty eighth, after a month of unusually mild temperatures, he decided it was safe to come out. Big mistake. January, angry at the way the bird had tried to trick him, asked February for a loan of three days, and for those days unleashed the worst weather he could find - snow, wind, freezing temperatures and so on. The bird, scared out of his wits, took shelter in an old, unused chimney and waited it out. But when he finally came out, his feathers, coated with soot from the chimney, had become black. And so they have been ever since.
But if the snow wasn't unexpected, the antirrhinums were. Antirrhinums in January ??? And though covered with fleece, the marigolds which I blogged about last month are still going strong. Funny things, plants.