The changing seasons

Horta Marina – photo by Pete Trott

After over 25 years in the Caribbean you kind of let go the understanding of four seasons, replacing winter, spring, summer and autumn with,”bloody hot” and the hurricane season. Needless to say they do have seasons in the Caribbean but much less apparent unless you know what you’re looking for.

Coming into my fifth year here on Faial my love of the seasons has returned. My first winter was greeted with loathing. That cold damp time when everyone gets the flu, clothes fill with mould in the cupboards and the gray skies, all but set me up for months of dampened spirits and a feeling of gloom as to my reasons for moving here.
The streets  were empty and I watched with horror as the locals walked round in t-shirts. Seldom had I felt so out of place.
In the following years I learnt to find joy not just in spring and summer, but all the seasons… winter too.
Old values return and as winter approaches chestnuts ripen and beg for an open fire. People come and visit to sit round a warm fireplace, “and talk”, laugh and joke about the cold, and dream of the oncoming spring. The weather is somehow unifying people in a common bond of outer cold and inner warmth.
Winter fruits appear: oranges; tangerines; all types of veggies – some I never even knew before I came here. Then there’s the stews and starchy foods that would give a weight-watcher a heart attack: not just warming your tum but the table too – leaving the house the fragrance of garlic and fresh baked bread.
With the arrival of spring it’s not just nature that comes alive (although the grass on the lawn that suddenly needs cutting every two days gives a strong indication). But no, it shows itself in other ways. The trade winds return and with them the wonderful sight of the Marina filling with boats of all shapes and sizes. Bearded, crazy characters each with a tale to tell of  his or her time on the open Ocean. Mainly the males are the bearded ones but after enough time at sea…..
Ketch and  sloop, gaffers and cutters brigantine, barchentine, solo sailors and training ships full of youngsters. Spring is here and the Marina blooms as brightly as any flower. As with the flowers that waken the birds and the bees the Marina wakes the island from its winter slumber and tradesmen of all types can be seen plying their trade. Bars are abuzz and life is apparent. Come join us Horta Marina.
Wait till I tell you about summer.

Sean Paton

Environmental journalist, Radio presenter & resident of Faial.

 

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