Last Summer we heard about “the end of paradise”..in reference to forest fires transforming luxuriant green areas into charred blackened wastelands in the western Sierra. This is a threat which hangs over Guadarrama in general and which intensifies with climate change. But the infierno scenario looming over our future Summers is matched -and maybe even overshadowed- by the infierno scenario looming over our present Winters. The centuries old refrain about the weather of Castile or the central area of the peninsula, possibly coined by a North European traveller, that speaks of nueve meses de invierno y tres de infierno (lit. “nine months of winter and three of hell”) has been out of date for, at least, decades..the norm in recent times being tres meses de invierno (escasos) y nueve de infierno (three months of winter (if that) and nine of hell). But at least we still had three months of Winter until recently..now it seems that we are moving towards one month of invierno – split into a couple of convenient two-week cold spells – and eleven months of..infierno.
Winters in Guadarrama have been lightening up since the 1970’s, precipitation in general -and snowfall in particular- has dropped and average temperatures have risen. Nevertheless, despite knowing the Sierra only since the late 90’s, i have lived the experience of Paradise that was the Guadarrama Winter year after year, enthralled by days of magical perfection in a cold snowy brilliant Eden.. until about the year 2010. Of course there were omens of what was to come, years with low snow and high temperatures and rains that washed away what little snow had fallen, warnings that many chose to ignore or explain away with contrived and incoherent theories..babbling Adams on the Eve of Expulsion from the Garden. In the last three years the invernal seasons have been so erratic or “mild” as to be incongruous with the concept of Winter. Yes, maybe heavy snowfall in late January will pull our asses out of the fire once more in 2013; it has happened in the past, famously in 1996 and again in 2007. And the snow arrived in mid-February in 2002 ..but after two and a half months of non-Winter. Let’s hope and pray that 2013 will do better than that, though i for one will not be holding my breath..
PS ..while in Madrid on the 25th of December i observed several formations of wild geese flying to the North over the Manzanares.. Where the hell were they going..on Dec 25? (maybe they were reindeer in disguise flying back to the North Pole having carried out their duties down South?) ..and just what is going on with the weather?