Winter arrived last Friday afternoon. It raged for 36 hours, causing temperatures to drop from 19 to 2 degrees, then tailed off, but not before leaving a sizeable dump of snow across our tallest range, lowest foothills, and on our closest mountain (800 metres). On Saturday, everywhere over 200 metres had snow lying, and sporting the stuff on car bonnets was clearly the new très chic, proof of having been “to the snow”.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday were pudding test days; they were cold and miserable, with howling winds and driving rain, but I resolved not to break the dog-walking habit over mere hiccups in the weather. Needless to say, the roads were empty, so walking was less of an obstacle course. Well-thrashed and scattered by the elements, the calling cards of canines were too diluted to catch Blue’s keen nose, so she walked head bent, with purpose. There was nary a bird to be seen; where do they hide when the skies close in? My butterflies were just a colourful memory. On Monday, having spied some breaks in the clouds and then a trained spotlight on a small section of coast, I was sure I’d see a rainbow, but my timing or the climatic conditions were just out. The biggest rainbow I’ve ever seen passed over the whole city, a decade or more ago. Returning from the west of the island, we drove through a small pass and there it was, big fat bands of colour, metres thick, arching the whole run of the coast. Breathtaking.
These last few days have seen a steady run of male suitors accompanying, not Blue, but the likelihood of an encounter with her swollen, screaming vulva. Today, I sprayed her flanks and tail with “female dog pet perfume”, manufactured in Greece. Not a jot of difference did it make; the humbled chaps kept a steady 4 metres distance from Blue’s heels, and a leery eye on my umbrella. I found myself fantasising about doggy tampons till I realised that her hormones would still be radiating from her nether regions, attracting dogs from three miles off (depending, I’m sure, on the direction and intensity of the wind). The last dog to trail us , a tan adolescent, was in such a state of giddy excitement that his teeth chattered.
On the last leg home, I noticed how filthy the communal bins of this city are. They get emptied often enough, but by dint of their being communal, they (and the areas they stand in) are neglected and stinking. Feral cats yowl when bags are inadvertently dumped on them, interrupting their feed. Rats get their dues from the scrap spills, and fallout. The only way to heal this health hazard is to introduce the wheelie bin for every household, and to make individuals responsible for their plots. Greeks are good at that as a rule, sweeping the communal pavements outside their houses, scalding paving stones and concrete. The only thing I can’t figure is the system of collection.
In the UK, residents must wheel their bins to the edge of their property on certain days. I can’t quite make the mental leap over the difficulties that this would create, what with wild-card parking, narrow streets, poor infrastructure, but anything has got to better than the poorly-conceived concept of communal places to pitch a city’s waste. If anything, personal responsibility might wake folk up to the idea of how much “crap” they produce, and the knock-on effect could be, for example, buying products with less packaging, or getting serious about recycling. Plastic bottles are a huge problem in Greece since bottled water is both cheap and necessary. How about money incentives for saving plastic? It could even be in the form of a tax deduction. As I child, I’d return glass bottles to our local ‘Offy’ (Off-Licence), get to keep the pennies for their return. Don’t think I’d have done the chore so willingly if there’d been zero incentive.