Many moons ago, when I worked on a daily newspaper in Britain we had an unpredicted, prolonged, crop-wilting, knee-buckling drought and heatwave. It was in an age of climate ignorance when consequences may have been on the horizon but nobody except some dedicated, ignored scientists were paying attention.
Weather forecasting seemed no more reliable than holding a wet finger in the air. There was no unregulated new media madness then, just the now critically undervalued skill of dedicated qualified journalists who hunt relentlessly for the truth, get into the detail, have fingers on the pulse and who euphemistically hold politicians’ feet to the fire. (Keep going journalists everywhere, for you are needed more than ever. And stay well clear from the darkening shadow of the word media).
We worked for days piecing together personal stories of the desperate consequences of the drought. Then we went for it, banner headline, pages of detail and advice, the lot. I drove under a clear night sky to the printing press, checked the final proofs, gave the thumbs up and the vast state-of-the-press worked up a head of steam. It was always momentous, our endeavours manifest.
I had a chat with colleagues then stepped outside to breathe. I looked up and felt raindrops on my face. Piles of wet newspapers were dropped off at newsagents that morning. The teenagers doing cycle deliveries wore bin liners to stay dry.
I tell you this just in case my account of our current dire situation at home in The Priorat and a host of other places stirs the gods once again into hurling some thunderbolts at me.
With the loss of our previously flourishing well and spring we have just enlisted the help of a renowned water diviner, sought permissions and then spent €8,000 on a new 85 metre well. It has not worked. We in no way blame the diviner. There is water, just precious little. Now we are going to have a 700 metre trench dug and a pipe laid to link into the village supply. That will cost a few thousand more.
Meanwhile the village and our council and our friends sustain us. They have always been beyond wonderful. We have always been weaved in. We have water deliveries almost weekly and have rigged up a system of pumps. We monitor forecasts. Hopes and clouds continue to evaporate. We cannot water the olive trees, understandably, so we are going to have a horrible harvest. And then there is the bad dream that is wildfire, stalking all of Catalonia and the world.
We will survive. We must live the day and tread as softly as we can, heeding the truth-sayers, learning, while keeping life in this valley in vital perspective. I would rather be here than anywhere else in our collective crisis.
Is it tonight they are giving jota dance classes in the village hall on the eve of festa?