A khamsin (I’ve lived here for 17 years and still don’t know what they call them here!) started early yesterday morning, and by first light, was roaring out of the south-east, hot and laden with dust. At times the gusts topped 100 kph. It took the side wall of the greenhouse and some of the canes that I had put up as bean supports, and wrought havoc around the house with overturned chairs, buckets whose contents now strew the back verandah, flying boxes, tipped over bins.
My short time working outdoors yesterday had a nightmare quality, driving was a battle of compensation and correction (imagine being in an empty lorry!), no planes landed, and over everything hung a haze of dust particles that blurred details of distance, brought fresh prickling to my already irritated eyes, and made breathing difficult.
And it was hot.
By mid afternoon when I went to the garage to hang the second wash, the wind had backed and came, cooler, out of the west with slightly less fervour. Some rain – perhaps the last before summer – fell.
Night became a game of ‘guess what that was’ as the new wind direction toppled hitherto protected barrels, and a box of empty wine bottles crashed somewhere to the ground. Plastic sheeting tore free from something and flapped, endlessly. Doors and shutters creaked and rattled.
Today dawned grey, the wind still gusting, and after dropping the Big Ones at school, I went to the field to see the damage.
Just as I was lifting the last of ten 25-kilo sacks of organic fertiliser into the back of the Landrover, Best Beloved called from his Nicosia office.
“How is it, Manamou?”
I outlined the damage, adding that the spinning plastic wall of the greenhouse had not only damaged the beans, it had also brought down several sections of steel mesh on which my cucumber plants climb. He told me that this is the force of nature “an act of God, I think they call it,” he continued. “As a farmer, you have to be prepared for this…” he said the same things several times before I asked him if I could please get back to work now, to start repairs.
Later, when I got back to the house, I called him. “I hope some time, darling,” I said. “That when you are on the front line of a big damage assessment and clean-up, some Fat Cat, sitting in his distant office, sipping his cup of Fairtrade coffee, calls you to discuss the Force of Nature, Acts of God, and other things for which farmers should be prepared …”
He laughed and rang off after telling me to 'Get on with it!'