There goes summer


We knew it couldn’t last, all that sun and warmth and autumnal glow.

And it didn’t.

Friday morning we woke up early to the insistent clattering of the Venetian blinds against the window.  The message they were tapping out was “Let us in, it’s cold out here.”

As you see, the wind hasn't stopped everybody from working. You should know, however, that when Lino was a lad -- before motors made everybody feel invincible -- everybody would still have gone to work on a day like this, rowing. Not made up. There were farmers on the mainland who rowed to Venice every morning -- extremely early in the morning, too. No snow days, no parental slips, as in "Please excuse my son from rowing to Venice this morning with the milk, there's too much wind." People didn't think that way.

Did I say wind?  We got to the vaporetto in record time, rushed along by a powerful southwest wind known officially as the libeccio but here is called garbin (gar-BEEN).  What was happening was a highly invigorating “garbinata.”

The lagoon was having a seizure.  Between the waves caused by the wind and those created by boats with motors, the water didn’t know which way it was supposed to go, so it pretty much went everywhere.

This is a man who has tremendous confidence in his boat, and himself. An obstreperous wave or gust could easily change all that.

But we knew it wasn’t going to go on for long, because when the tide turned the wind was going to turn too,  leaving the stage for the next performer, its opposite number, a northeast wind officially known as the grecale but here is called borin (bore-EEN).

This has been ordained by the Great Ordainer and is so dependable a phenomenon that there’s a phrase that goes with it: “Garbin ciama borin” (gar-BEEN chama bor-EEN): the southwest wind “calls” the northeast wind.

It also rained for several hours in a sort of “Get it all out, you’ll feel better” kind of way.

I certainly felt better. I loved hearing the rain, it was visit from a long-lost friend.  And I’d say that even if I had had to be out in it.  You know me.

It didn't matter which way you were heading -- everybody was in the same fix.

And spare a thought for the working stiffs ashore. This poor bastard had been sent out by himself to tie down the big banner announcing something important. The top edge is supposed to be lashed to the supports at his feet. I didn't watch for long because it seemed rude, and I might have offered to help except that I seriously doubted I'd be able to. It would have been like offering to help somebody furl the mainsail in a gale.


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Categories : Nature


  1. Krystyna says:

    I was on the waterbus line 51.
    Full-grown waves were sweeping across the deck. After each the water created nice cascades down the steps into the cabin.
    The people standing on the deck became soaking wet up to the waist – I mean they looked wet as if they had been immersed in water, not some splashes or so.

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      Were the people screaming? Usually when a couple of liters of water touch the passengers, they begin to go a little crazy. Wish I’d been there, I always miss the good stuff.

      • Krystyna says:

        Hm… I don’t remember screaming, but there was also much noise from the boat, wind and waves. The people looked very serious (as they usually do when the weather is bad).
        But a big dog (without muzzle, as always) went really crazy and pulled the lady holding him down the steps. Somehow the other people stopped her from falling.
        People fled into the cabin as fast as they could. There, the dog continued crying like a puppy 🙂

        But one or two really hard guys stayed outside, and I can even understand them: I guess when you’re already fully soaked there is no point in moving, it’s too late 🙂

        PS: All of this happened between S.Zaccharia and S.Elena. I was sitting in that place ‘half outside’ where one puts the luggage. There I got only partly wet from splashes, and it was a good place for watching.
        The people looked rather Venetian and not like tourists, so I didn’t see any wet photo camera involved.

        • Erla Zwingle says:

          I’m glad to know people handled it like the old sea dogs (sorry) they used to be. Thanks for describing the scene. I’m sure it will induce at least a few readers to revise their plans on a stormy day, and stay well ashore!

  2. I’m loving your blog, Erla! Thank you. Heading from Australia to Venice in mid-October for 11 days – what weather could I expect? Everything, except warmth? 🙂

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      We all know that weather forecasts are not the most totally reliable things in the world. I suppose “warmth” could also have a range of meanings. That said, ilmeteo.it says that the temperature in October ranges from a low of 9 degrees C (48 F) to a high of 18 degrees C (64 F). No more tank tops, obviously, but unlikely that you’d need your ski jacket….