As the temperature on my outside gauge hovers perilously close to the -30°C mark and my heating bill hovers perilously close to the ridiculous mark, it is time to stop, close my eyes, breathe deeply and remember the warmth of Croatia.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love the north. I love the incredibly long days of summer where things grow quickly and intensely. I love that crisp cool fall air when the sky is blue, blue, blue. So blue, in fact, I named my first child in honour of it.
I also love the incredibly short days in the winter that offer a quality of light known to few.
And thanks to the lovely Miche Genest, otherwise known as the Boreal Gourmet, I have come to appreciate the bounty of the north — the beauty of that wild cranberry hue that Sunkist will never master; the delightful spruce tip that will amaze unsuspecting dinner guests; Salmon so wild and fresh that they may just leap off the plate and go Jimmy Hendrix on you.
But, come on. Let’s get serious.
All over Croatia, we passed lime trees upon limes trees, orange trees, lemon trees, and crazy cross breed of the two, caused by too many fruit trees in the same space.
In Zjuliana, I picked figs warmed by the sun and popped them in my mouth, a sensation all should experience. We passed pomegranate trees dripping with succulent, rich, red seeds. We did not have to even break them open to look at the seeds because they were literally bursting out of their skin.
And olive trees – there is something ancient and eternal about the olive tree. The sight of them made me think of toga-clad Grecians heading to an ancient feast replete with mead, wild boar and inappropriate sexual innuendo.
We identified apricots and kiwis in lesser numbers and were positively stumped by a few other trees that had fruits we did not even know.
Rosemary in Croatia and in Italy (and likely in a lot of other places that are not Whitehorse) is a hedge, not a tiny little plant I lovingly cultivate on my windowsill. A hedge. It wrapped itself around people’s homes, it created the centerpiece of elaborate hotel lawns, and it lined the driveway of our Italian villa. And our Italian villa driveway was long. Looooooooooooong.
All that richness can be dangerous though. As we swung in the hammock, for example, attached to twin pear trees, a falling pear missed us by an inch. Later we rested on a bench and narrowly missed being brained by a falling chestnut.
The threat of bear, coyote or itinerant dog in the Yukon is nothing compared to the danger of the bounty of fruit in Southern Europe.
Come to think of it though, it may be how I want to go out – being clocked by a falling chestnut. Especially if that weather gauge goes past -40°C.