his has been the longest and hottest summer in memory. Often in Le Marche we find ourselves apologizing for horrendous August downpours. Not this year. An unrelenting sun beat down from a cloudless sky for three months and took its toll.
Foliage wilted. So did humans. Tempers started fraying. Our normally peaceful valley changed character.
Without respite from the heat, some of us escaped our house and took to sleeping on a trampoline under the stars, paradise compared to a stuffy bedroom. I suspect others didn’t enjoy the same repose because one of our Marios — there are three own property around us — started setting off mortar bangs every at five minute intervals throughout the night. The thunderclaps were intended to scare off the cinghiali (wild boar) that were eating his sunflower crops.
The blasts enraged some normally calm and reasonable people, who sent off a volley of furious emails and formed a “noise abatement society” that actually threatened to storm the gates of Mario’s house with pitchforks. The fact that he lives up in town and would be untouched by the threat only stoked further outrage.
It turns out he was protected by an insurance company, since he was acting on an official claim he’d made to the firm about his damaged crops. Though the self-styled noise militia was forced to stand down, feelings still ran high.
I have some sympathy for Mario. A few years ago we decided to plant a field of maize. Without mechanized means at our disposal, we fanned out across out fields and flung basketfuls of seeds. It worked remarkably well. By mid-August we had a fine crop that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Once we had the maize, we sat down and pondered just how long it would take to harvest it all by hand. A long time, we decided. So we resolved to get started the next morning. Clearly the local wild boar population must have been listening in on our schemes. By the time we’d assembled our team and armed them with machetes, the boar had decimated the whole crop.
They must have flocked in from miles around and feasted all night. That morning, we walked forlornly around the field trying to salvage whatever we could. We couldn’t help but marvel at their thoroughness.
To be honest, if I’d had an “anti-boar” noise-maker at the time I might have taken the chance of using it and upsetting my neighbors. In fact, the night Mario’s bangs began, I heard nothing. But I’m in the minority. “This sort of thing just doesn’t happen in Surry,” I was told, and taking up pitchforks was apparently the only response.
The “outraged” were briefly uplifted when a combine appeared in Mario’s fields. But it only harvested half the crop and the banging continues, for how much longer isn’t clear. For Mario’s sake, I hope it’s working.
Now, it’s time to look forward to September’s storms, and with them, the end of the summer wars.