Wow, that was a while, sorry.
There was something cosmically correct about getting a ferocious bout of the flu immediately after that horrifying debacle in Rome, don't you think? As though my immune system just couldn't take any more and forced my brain to shut down for a week.
Some friends fled up here from Rome after it was all over to try to regain some mental equillibrium and we did have a splendid time. Much beer and sausages, long, cool, sunny walks in the Marcite, leaves turning and falling, wild boar frisking about and bunnies hopping all over, birds and butterflies flapping, walnuts, pears, apples and rose hips ready for collecting.
The garden needs work, and I have many plans.
Had a little adventure last night. Not really completely recovered, but yesterday was going to be day eight cooped up in the house-o, so I was just about ready to burst. Every day here has been more gorgeous than the last, with cool foggy mornings and splendid warm sunny afternoons. Yesterday was so warm - had to be at least 25 - I couldn't stand it any more, and wheezing and coughing I went out for an 'easy' walk. Took the bike down the hill and parked it in a field and had a stroll about 3:30 in the afternoon (remembering that it's full dark now by 5:30.)
When I first started walking in the Marcite, one of the first things I'd noticed was the large areas of turf that had obviously been rooted up by some digging animal. The damaged areas were sometimes as much as 30 or 40 feet in diameter, so I didn't think it could possibly be rabbits or other small furry woodland creatures. I wondered if goats would do that, since there were always a few mixed in with the sheep flocks that were pastured down there. But as far as I know they only eat leaves and grasses, and don't dig for stuff underground. I remained puzzled, until I read about cinghiale - wild boar.
Pigs root, and the only reason it hadn't occurred to me was that I never would have thought that wild boar would come so close to where people are. But the more I walked about those fertile grassy, marshy lowlands, the more I saw signs of them. The rooted-up parts were always near the water courses, and were often muddy, so their cloven hoof marks were often still visible. Then I started seeing their trails. Wild animals will often create little highways where they cross open land single file, always taking the same path to known food sources from their dens. So I have been able to follow some of the trails they make, all clearly from the hills on the opposite side of the valley.
I knew they were nocturnal feeders, so wasn't worried about actually meeting any down there, but was mindful that it would be quite a bad plan to go to the water meadows after dark. So, yesterday, I had only intended to go for an hour, the last hour of daylight, and stick to the wide paths and farm tracks... and it's a good thing I did.
I was heading back towards the town gate along the old rocky farm road that skirts the base of Norcia's small hill, when I looked over at a commotion about 30 feet away in the bullrushes below. I was up fairly high above the marsh, about 2 or 3 meters and the road is elevated on a ridge that creates a kind of back wall. I thought it was ducks at first, but where ducks are a burst and then you see them flying off, this went on for a while and then subsided. I saw the rushes and other plants obviously being moved around violently.
It became clear that it was a large animal of some kind. Expecting a dog, since it was still mostly daylight, I stopped and looked with my little field glasses, and it was four wild boar, a mother and three babies. I stood still and watched them for a bit. They obviously hadn't seen me and were just rooting about. Then I must have moved or perhaps the breeze brought my scent over to them, and they all jumped at once and took off.
For a brief moment I had a bit of a turn when I wondered if they might be coming my way, but they know all about the town, and from the motion of the underbrush it was clear that they had tooken off the opposite way back towards the hills. I figured I was pretty safe where I was, since there was no easy way for them to get to me, but still, it gave me a bit of a turn! And it crossed my mind that it might have been quite different, since I had been considering walking back the short way along the marsh path, but had decided it would be easier on the farm road and with the bike.
It will make me more cautious from now on about the time. The sun "sets" early here because of the mountains and the valley was completely in shade, but there was still light on the eastern slopes and on the town, and it was certainly light enough to see them easily with the field glasses. But shade, apparently, is sufficient for them.
I know, no pics. Sorry. I have a good camera, but one day the little window that keeps the battery in fell open while I wasn't looking, and the damn battery isn't the kind you can buy at the shop. It has to be ordered, and we are still waiting. When it comes, I will be sure to secure it with a sturdy piece of duct tape.
But this video shows exactly where I was, and has lots of lovely pics of the local area.
At exactly 7:08 there is an arial shot of the lower end of Norcia and the farm road is clearly visible, hugging the base of the hill.