Like many ex-pats I try to escape from Cyprus for some of the hottest weeks of summer and have recently returned from the UK where I spent four blissful weeks soaking up the cool weather. There were some sunny days when I was in the south east but going further west brought grey skies, clouds and some rain. I loved it, while all around me were complaints about the lousiest summer for decades. It didn’t seem at all bad to me and I couldn’t understand why there was so much moaning. I wore a tee shirt and jeans most of the time, and sandals, and only when the temperature dipped below 18C did I feel the need for a lightweight body warmer.
Returning to Cyprus on 28th August I stepped off the aircraft at Ercan into the expected early evening high heat and found that it was just as humid and sticky as when I had left it twenty eight days previously. I wished I had stayed away for longer but the garden can only be left to the tender mercies of our gardener for a certain length of time and he wanted to go to see his wife and children in Turkey and to celebrate the end of Ramazan with all his family. So back to Cyprus I came.
Of course it is not all bad, it is only us semi-resident Brits that complain about the weather, it is something we do as a matter of course and it is immaterial what type of weather we are having, it is always too hot, too wet, too dry, or too windy and for centuries we have delighted in making it one of our main topics of conversation.
However there are thousands of Europeans, mostly from the north or west of the continent who are denied adequate doses of sunshine and the necessary Vitamin D for good health and they have come to Cyprus in large numbers to get as much benefit as they can in a couple of weeks. The beaches have been packed with gently (and sometimes not so gently) tanning bodies and the hotels have been reasonably well filled with a vast number of clients intent only on lying by the swimming pool and turning over every half hour or so like a shish kebab and crisping round the edges. Who can blame them when there has been so little sun in the British Isles and not a lot more on the North European continent?
As so many of our visitors were enjoying the sun, the storm clouds started to gather over the mountains and rumblings of ominous thunder were heard coming from a distance. Those rumblings increased in force and I thought there was a strong possibility of a shower. The clouds got darker and darker and shrouded the landscape, completely obliterating the castles of St. Hilarion and Buffavento. A thunderstorm was definitely promised somewhere and with luck it was going to be over my garden. But just in case it decided to pass me by I thought I would do the watering anyway and the well pump gushed forth life-giving water onto the parched earth. I had been engrossed in my task for about ten minutes when I felt the first fat drop of rain plop onto my head, and they really were fat drops hitting the paving stones with an audible dull thud and forming a broad circle that was in excess of the size of a one lira coin. Slowly the rain came at first, gradually increasing into a refreshing storm that washed the dust from the leaves and thoroughly soaked the paths and roadway. The steam rose in clouds of wispy warm vapour and the earth gave off a smell much richer and more fragrant than it does from mere watering. There is something about the scent of rained on foliage that is completely different to the smell I get when I am using the water from the well. Maybe it is the purity of the God given shower or the warmer temperature as it falls to earth. Whatever it is, there is nothing else quite like it. I continued to water as the rain soaked the garden and me, after half an hour I was completely drenched, gloriously cool, and like the garden I felt invigorated and refreshed.
The storm didn’t last long over my village, but other parts of the island were hit by flash floods causing damage and drains were unable to take the sudden volume of water. In some areas drivers were forced to stop on the side of the road as their windscreen wipers could not cope with the excessive downpour. So, what is beneficial and welcomed by some such as I, may very well be regarded with mixed emotions by others. Mother Nature has always been quixotic with her favours and has never found a middle ground that gives fair shares to all. Thus it will always be too dry, too wet, too windy etc. and we will no doubt continue to moan about the weather for several more centuries to come no matter where we are.