It’s as if the creator had flicked a switch marked ‘Heaven’ to the ‘Shit’ position. Although we’re not on first name terms, I’m prompted to ask why He can’t organise some smooth transition from summer to winter so that it comes as less of a trauma. In the frozen north we’re used to it because the autumnal shock is rather muted, heralded in advance and anticipated. In Portugal, we go from high summer to something that Noah and his ark would be quite familiar with but it happens in an instant, like the clocks going back; at about two in the morning. The swallows and swifts have departed for the south and, as I write, the rain is sheeting down in squally bursts, roads have become rivers, windows opaque. The sky is leaden and drags my mood down with it.
OK, I know that it’ll pass, and I remember that last winter was bright and blue for most of the time. I can’t say that it’s cold but that didn’t stop us having a fire last night; the first this winter. Now that’s compensation. The light has started washing from the sky by 5:30 but flaming logs bring the colours of sunset inside to warm your soul. For six months of the year, we mostly live outside but, now that it’s wet and wild, the warmth of the hearth beckons with a smile. Nothing nicer than listening to the rain pelting against the windows whilst cozying up, golden sprites dancing off our faces and over the walls, the fire glowing like a ruby’s reflection in a glass of wine.
Carvoeiro is getting much quieter now with few people about. Like a theme park in winter, the visitors have gone into hibernation. It’s not a real working village and only exists for the holiday trade; half of the restaurants will close for a couple of months but there are enough expats to keep the place alive, although its pulse will be weak.
I’ve spent Christmas here most years recently and promise not to be disappointed. I know that nothing much will happen here, there will be few lights and Santa is a northern European invention (actually, I think he was invented by Coca-Cola). There will be no snow, deep and crisp and even, no Feast of Steven, nor any holy or ivy. Ye Faithful will be with their familes indoors and rarely venture out. In this Catholic country, Christmas is a muted affair and there has never been a tradition to drag some poor wilted tree indoors to drop needles everywhere. So, that will be Christmas. New Year will come in with the usual fireworks as Portimao and Ferragudo compete with each other from either side of the Rio Arade. Carvoeiro itself will be a ghost town. January will be as if the village had fallen asleep but visitors will start to migrate from Canada in February and March, fed up of the Canadian winter but not able to face Florida again. Then comes Easter; the season will kick off again and winter will be but a memory.
Seems like wishing my life away, but I guess winter’s always like that.