Shot across the bows

We’ve been warned! Yesterday we had our first taste of snow – wet and transient at village level, it left a dusting of powder on the higher forest slopes.

Magura, autumn colours, first snow, Transylvania

The first dusting of snow yesterday, above the first turning leaves

This morning, there was a proper covering of white ice on the mountain ridge and its rocky sides – hidden by cloud yesterday – but by the afternoon a warm sun had melted most of the snow. Bucegi was better covered, but still, not quite winter. But it’s coming!

Advertisements

New book about Magura

IMG_4802

My new book, Fericita in Transilvania: drumul din Liverpool in Carpati, will be published by Editura All in mid-November. All about my life in Magura – how and why I came here, and why I’ve stayed – the book tells the story of why an English woman left a world-famous city for a remote mountain village in Romania.

Follow the book blog to find out about the book launch, events, signings, talks, offers, competitions and more.

If you’re searching for the right Christmas present, this might be the solution…

 

 

 

Turning leaves, early frosts

In October 2011 we were sitting in the main square in Sighisoara’s ancient citadel, when we noticed the chestnut tree over our heads. The long drought over summer and a short burst of snow had confused the tree, and amongst the swelling chestnuts and the shrivelled leaves were fresh green leaves and white flowers. The poor tree didn’t know if it was coming or going. Lots more photos of autumn colour in the new gallery

Sibiu, Oct 2011 (in drought)with Sue and Niall

Confused chestnut, Sibiu, Oct 2011 (in drought) 

UFOs over the village

Magura is a brilliant place for cloud-watchers. Any other members of the Cloud Appreciation Society in Romania? This is the place for you. Last night’s sunset gave us a double hit, one puffball looming over Pestera, and a pod of spaceships hanging over Piatra Craiului. Stunning. [For other cloud pics, see earlier post.]

Pestera, Magura, Bran, Transylvania, clouds, Cloud Appreciation Society, lenticular clouds

A giant pink powderpuff looms over Pestera

Clouds, lenticular cloud, Magura Transylvania, Romania, sunset,

Lenticular clouds are quite common over the ridge

Come on, baby, light my fire!

A blaze of Transylvanian excitement on 25th October! Julia Leescu tells us about an event you won’t want to miss…

fire, bonfire, Sumedru, Saint Dimitriu, foc, pagan festivals, fire festivals, Transylvania, Carpathians, Romania

Sumedru’s fire in Sirnea – come and join the autumn festivities in one of the prettiest villages in the Carpathians.

While most of Europe burns festive fires on Midsummer’s Night, Romanians of the Bran-Moeciu area do things differently and celebrate their Bonfire Day in late October.
Not a bad decision, we say: all work in the fields is done, sheep are back in the villages, shepherds are back with their children and wives, huge piles of local cheese and dried meat are prepared and palinca (local strong alcohol) is distilled for winter. Time to party! Winter is coming: it’s time for Sumedru’s fire (Jim Morrison would be proud).
If you thought that Romanian rural tourism is all about Christian orthodox traditions, your tourist guide might be just wrong. Scratch the surface of many traditions and you’ll see pagan roots. Same goes for St Dimitrie’s holiday – the pre-Christian god Sumedru has transformed himself into Saint Dumitru over the centuries, but the meaning of the old celebration stays the same. The great fire in each of the nine villages of Bran means the death of one season and the birth of the next: the start of a new cycle of life. The bonfire is also said to protect the village against lightning strikes. With wooden houses, this is an important consideration…
The ‘funerary pyre’ of the dead summer purifies everyone around it: dancing and singing children, old folks with boxes full of homemade pastries and chocolate bars, flirting teenagers with torches, daring youths leaping through the flames, locals and tourists.
The fire is usually built on a high hill so everyone can see it. The celebration may last well into the night with concerts around the fire and late festive dinners afterwards at someone’s house.
Visiting any of the Nine Villages on Sumedru’s night offers charming surprises: last year we attended the night celebration in Sirnea village, where local school professor Radu Fruntes organised a great concert with local children lighting the fire, singing and dancing. Later there was a huge party at Radu’s house with hot wine, authentic shepherd-style food and treats and long talks about life with the local police and the mayor.
This year we’re going to Sirnea village again to charge our batteries with authentic Carpathian earth energy, and enough good food to survive the long fast until Christmas.
If you feel a bit cold this Autumn – join Sumedru’s celebration and feel the heat…

Would you like to join us in Sirnea? the evening is Saturday 25th October, but we’ll confirm other information (how to get there, where to stay, what to bring etc) as soon as possible. Leave a comment here, or send us an email with your contact details and we’ll be in touch soon. Please note: this is a traditional and local event, unlike the big commercial thing happening in Bran, so there will be a limit on how many can come to Sirnea. Let us know you’re coming as soon as possible See you there!

Winter’s here, two months early

Magura under snow, Transylvania, Carpathians

Winter in October

Yesterday – 1st October – winter turned up. We woke to falling snow, a smattering of white on the green grass as though a vast bag of icing sugar had broken above the village.
It was already too late to move the car. I hadn’t switched to winter tyres yet, it being early autumn, so even then the car slid and skidded and went nowhere, and now it’s blanketed in white and taking an impromptu holiday.
It has been snowing without a breather since yesterday morning, and has dumped almost 30 centimetres (one foot) of snow on us; as the snow slides off my roof in heavy loads, the heap of snow has built to over a metre deep outside every door.
Apple trees still laden with fruit have branches bent to the ground, and brittle trees like cherry have been breaking under the weight of snow and ice; my visini (sour cherry) tree has lost two main branches, with great wounds in the trunk where they snapped.
Vegetables still in the ground, such as turnips, potatoes and beetroot, and leaves like Swiss chard (in my veg patch) may not be salvaged, leaving a hole in the winter food supplies for humans and animals.
It’s due to be sunny for several days from tomorrow, and it’s above freezing during the day… but we’ll see.
The forecast is for a horribly severe winter, so perhaps this is an omen.
If you love winter sports, this may be the year you bring your skis to Romania.

Vine iarna! Winter’s coming…

Last year we had a surprise snowfall on 11th October, before the apples had been picked. The weight of the snow on trees still in leaf was too much for some, and there quite a few broken branches around the village. This year the snow waited for another two weeks – it arrived yesterday as a herald of the winter to come.

My kittens weren’t fazed for long – the two summer-born kittens were out exploring and enjoying the sensation of paws sinking through the inch (2cm) of snow that fell in the first half hour.

This morning the sun came out fighting, blazing in a cloudless sky and driving the winter back. We have our autumn colours in Magura again, but more snow is promised tomorrow.

We’ll see. With luck we’ll have a few more weeks of autumn.

But winter is coming to Transylvania, and it’s rumoured to be worse than last year. The cats love it, the kids love it, and the snow brings lots of visitors to Piatra Craiului national park. Great for the winter sports fans, for visitors coming to track bears, wolves and lynx in the snow, and for walkers and climbers who love an icy challenge.

But for some of us, winter is time to retreat to the warmest room and dig out the thermal vests.