Saturday, 22 December 2012

O Rex gentium - holiday time begins

Another day of intermittent showers and rainbows. Not quite the weather hoped for by the team of sixteen young US naval personnel who'd pledged to come from their base in Messina to tidy up the church garden, as part of their community outreach programme. Nevertheless they were here by ten thirty and worked non stop with no concern for the weather for over three hours. On both occasions we went out, I had wet feet on return, as the streets were running with water draining away well after it stopped raining.

We needed to go out shopping to stock up in preparation for the arrival of Kath, Anto and Rhiannon on Boxing Day, Sant Stefano is it's called here. On our way we saw a second pyramid of logs being prepared for a Christmas Eve bonfire outside the Duomo. Meanwhile another of the weekend's weddings was about to start inside, and stylishly dressed people in customary black garb hung around socialising outside beforehand. There are more visitors around this weekend, and I'm noticing restaurants re-opening. The pensione Svizzera next to the church has unchained its gates and its garden is lit up again.

The checkout lady at the Simply supermarket told us they'd be closed Christmas Day and on Sant Stefano it's the normal Sunday half day opening hours. I guess like many other shops it'll be open all day tomorrow, instead of the usual half day. Shopping daily is fairly necessary without the benefit of a car to make an expedition to a big supermarket for week's worth of shopping or longer, so it's best to be fully prepared.

Two doors down from the Simply supermarket an establishment that's been closed for re-furbishment has re-opened today. It's a fishmonger's shop with an interesting selection of fish on offer, including tuna a whole swordfish, beak and all, freshly caught, and some varieties of octopus and squid we'd not seen before. We settled for a couple of slices of swordfish - and paid a lot for it, but when we got home we realised that we had enough for two full meals for both of us. Now we have a place to buy fresh fish at both ends of town and won't need to rummage through shop freezer compartments to fnd what we fancy.

Clare baked some biscuits after lunch to take as a little gift to the Sisters. It was a bit of an experiment as the temperature regulation seemed oddly drift, so that the biscuits took three times as long to cook properly as the recipe intended. We took them with us when we went to the convent for Vespers and adoration.

After baking, the weather cleared sufficiently for us to walk right up the via Crucis path to the Sanctuario della Madonna della Rocca on Monte Tauro. We got back before rain came again in earnest. Mount Etna was wreathed in stormy rain clouds as the sun heading toward the horizon. More snow up there tonight I imagine. Are they skiing by day yet? I wonder a little jealously.

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