The skies have been brilliantly sunny and practically cloudless, not unlike those we experienced daily in New Mexico. May Day brought hoards of visitors to Ascoli for the Fritto Misto event, while the majority of locals we knew flocked to the beach for a day of sun, seafood, and a long passeggiata along the lungomare. While the water is still too cold for swimming, the sun-warmed air was sufficient for getting a jump on their tans and we have been seeing bronzed faces around the centro storico. So it seemed a bit incongruous, given these climatic conditions, that when May 1 showed up on the calendar, my morning walk around the centro brought the sight of snow flurries. Each day since then, the snowfall has steadily increased. It is even accumulating and drifting in certain parts of town.
The snowfall is not of the crystallized moisture variety, but is more odious...at least to me as an allergy sufferer. The flurries in question are descending constantly from the pioppi, the poplar trees lining the two rivers that enfold Ascoli by their protective watery ravines.
Like the cottonwoods in New Mexico, pioppi produce a fine, cotton-like fluff of pollens that, once airborne, floats and flutters into the house. When I'm out walking it blows into my face, even on occasion right into my mouth, and sets off an allergic reaction of misery. The air has been littered with it, truly with the appearance of snowfall. Cottonwood is, I have recently learned, a variety of poplar. In our village they called it the "Corrales Crud," because the location on the Rio Grande guaranteed the cottony stuff would fall all over our hamlet and choke up our cars' air filters.
I've never been a great fan of this season. While I enjoy the wildflowers currently in bloom - vast stands of poppies among them - I selfishly abhor the symptoms the new vegetation produces.
Last year's drought meant there wasn't such a noticeable problem. This year, the April showers have brought May snows. To me, it's worse than the winter variety. I'm told that the itchy eyes, sneezing and general foggy feeling that I've been experiencing won't last too much longer as the poplars are currently peaking and will be finished soon. Until then, I'll be be sweeping up cotton-snow daily and cursing the maledetta primavera.