What have I been up to in the last few weeks? Enjoying long walks under gorgeous October skies, reading (Elizabeth George’s A Great Deliverance and Louise Penny’s All the Devils Are Here — they are truly “sisters in crime”), baking a bit (more on that in a subsequent post), binging the magnificent series Shetland on BritBox, and listening to some fabulous music (more on that later, too). In other words, I’m using every tool in the box to stay positive and hopeful and healthy.
October’s bright blue weather typically disappears by Halloween. The past week’s oasis of unseasonably warm weather under cloudless, luminescent skies was as rare and unexpected treat as it was ephemeral. Gray November began settling in on November 11, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours.
According to legend, St. Martin, then a Roman solider, came upon a beggar clad in rags at the city gate. Martin tore his cloak down the middle and gave half to the shivering man. The next night, in a dream, he saw Jesus, wearing the half cloak the future saint had given away. Both the saint and the legend have remained hugely popular in Europe and the UK.
Here, in the US, we’re not so much “into” saints (perhaps we should be??). Italians celebrate their onomastico… the feast day of the saint for which they’re named… with good wishes as fervent as those offered on their birthdays. Every saint has at least one heavenly assignment; many are forced to multi-task with several. St. Martin of Tours is the patron of both beggars and winegrowers. Interesting combination. In his honor in Southern Italy, my ancestral home, November 11 is the day for tasting the new wine (which is especially relevant in this household as daughter Emily is a wine importer, and I am honored to help her move that wine over land and sea).
But St. Martin also gets credit for good weather this time of year. Per Italy Magazine (which I highly recommend):
It is also said that at the moment he shared his cloak, the sun came out and that is why what in the U.K. and the U.S. is known as Indian summer, in Italy is called Estate di San Martino: a short period of time during the first weeks of November characterised by relatively good, warm weather.
Estate is the Italian word for summer. In France, this gift of sunny warmth is été de Saint Martin. It’s November 13 as I write this, and we’re back in the seasonably chilly low 50’s, but Estate di San Martino gave us a welcome and much needed burst of sun and balm for which I was deeply grateful.
Thanks for looking after us, St. Martin.
Cover photo: A Provençal vendange (grape harvest) by beloved French painter André Deymonaz, whose work we were privileged discover while visiting in Rousilllon in 2008. Thanks to M. Deymonaz, who sadly passed away recently, France is always with us. ©2020hashtagretired.com