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  • Writer's pictureAlex Subrizi

Waitin’ for it

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Stormy skies have been all too rare here this summer. This wouldn’t be a problem were it not for the fact that they’ve been rare since the start of the year. The evening of August 15th brought a much-needed reprieve. In the clip below, I pan away from a clutch of thirsty olives, towards yet another forecast storm as it approached to the north of our land around 17:20 local time.

90 minutes later, the rain finally began; a welcome variation on what we’d seen repeatedly over the past many weeks. Throughout June, July and early August, impressive clouds would occasionally gather only to dump to either side, move swiftly south of us and leave Poggiosole dry. The evening of Ferragosto it was our turn: raining lightly at first then steadily heavier, the downpour continuing for hours and accompanied by sustained, intense lightning like we hadn’t seen in years. By 4am this morning 9.1 centimeters (3.6 inches) of water had fallen on Poggiosole, easily exceeding the combined rainfall of the rest of 2022.

Although the electrical storm that accompanied the rainfall knocked out a portion of our electric power, which took nearly 24 hours to return, the storm was an absolute blessing. More are forecast in the coming days. We can only hope they resemble yesterday’s.

Postscript, August 18: Careful what you wish for 😅. This morning 5 minutes of typhoon-force winds, the leading edge of a half hour-long rainstorm, brought portions of old trees onto local roads. No major exterior damage at Poggiosole; just a lot of dirt in our pool and armloads of old dead twigs from our cypress trees strewn everywhere. However, power's been out all day (again) and skies were looking dramatic as evening approached:

that eerie effect that often precedes thunderstorms, heavens darker than earth. Around 18:00 more heavy rain began, with intermittent showers forecast well into tomorrow. As one of our guests aptly put it as she texted me about having to abandon her attempt to reach a restaurant due to a road being blocked by fallen timbers, "We are in the hands of some nasty weather god."

Post-postscript, August 20: It took a seemingly interminable 48 hours for full electric power to be restored to Poggiosole. As noted in an earlier post, running water throughout our lodgings depends on electrically-powered pumps local to the property, so this latest 48-hr "brownout" meant our guests went without running water (and working toilets, save for the time-tested "bucket flush") from Thursday morning's storm until 11 this morning. A nerve-wracking experience for me as custodian 😖. I placed over 15 increasingly exasperated calls to our electricity provider's customer service line in two days. And I've already added a 220V-powered backup water pump to the list of CAPEX improvements to be implemented this winter. Fortunately for me Vera, Stein, Stefanie, Ulrich and their children were all unusually understanding, and all will be welcome to return next year (if they dare!) at an unusual discount.

Final update, 15:15, August 21: Less than 5 hours after all our power was restored at 11 AM yesterday, a portion went out again 🤬. We went back to "brownout" status with water pumps disabled, about a third of our living spaces without light (with five bewildered new guests checked-in from yesterday evening) until 14:30 today, when the entire property went dark; no power anywhere.

More calls into our provider, waitin' for it. Ten minutes later an E-DISTRIBUZIONE truck was at our front gate, the two young techs inside from Crotone, Calabria, a town located 860km south of Poggiosole. They had been called in, along with other crews from southern Italy, on Friday evening, when it must have become apparent that local crews were overwhelmed repairing storm-damaged lines. The Crotone boys brought good news: "You should be back on-line now". And even though the meter's display still showed no service, they were right: lights, pumps, Wi-Fi, everything was working again (apparently the meter's display takes a while to update status). Their refreshingly sincere synopsis of the outage: "power lines had gotten tangled in some trees".

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