Yesterday when I was having a coffee with a friend, in the early afternoon, suddenly a shrill dark sound blared through the room. We nearly fell off our chairs ­— so scary it was. We looked at each other: ‘what is this’?! It absolutely didn’t sound like an earthquake. It was quiet for some seconds, then we both grabbed our telephones: WEATHER ALERT! ‘Dangerous weather coming and you’d better do not go out in the coming hours’. 

Imagine if you’d been in the supermarket, what horrible noise a herd of telephones would have made: ‘everybody directly to the bomb shelters’!

We couldn’t believe it when we looked outside: the sky was not exactly bright blue, but light grey and it was obvious that the sun was trying to come through. No trace of any dark clouds. What bullshit! We knew that Athens had received a weather alert. It can be very spooky there, but the capital is a fifty minutes flight away from Lesvos and the water that falls there can never rain upon this island. According to the weather predictions the extreme weather was not to be expected until the evening, if it was to reach the island at all. It is too often that we see dark hydrogen masses hurrying to the island, but just before landing they take a turn in the direction of Turkey, as if Lesvos was a no-go zone for rain clouds. That’s why we had a pretty dry autumn, not many mushrooms presented themselves and it was with pain in the heart we watched the rain falling in Turkey.

When ‘the coming hours’ were gone, bright lightning shot across the dark skies announcing the coming evil weather. This time 112 didn’t warn us with that loud noise through the telephone that we’d better looked for shelter. Exactly as the weather reports predicted, a mighty performance started in the middle of the evening with rain, hail, thunder and bright lights shooting through the heavens. The lights in the house blinked one or two times but decided to remain on and hours later it was only above Turkey that lightning was still to be seen, the thunder fading away. 

But by then I was already tired from playing concertmaster. During one of the earthquakes our roof had received a serious blow and now when it rains, drops also fall inside. Pans and pots have been enlisted to help keep the house dry. The receptacles constantly change places, depending on where and in what quantity the rain falled. Metal, plastic or porcelain, they all have their own sound: ‘Drop, drup, dripple, drab, dropplepop, dripdrap, drobdrib’ and so on. If I were a dadaist I would make it into a rain drop concert. 

It hasn’t rained yet today, but I keep the rain catchers on the ready because according to the reports it should be raining now. But even in Turkey I see the sunshine from time to time. The rainclouds probably have been delayed somewhere to have a coffee or a strengthening little glass of tsipouro, even the weather forecasters can’t always predict the coming antics of the weather.

That nasty 112 alert hasn’t bothered the telephones again. I am glad that they do not use it to warn you for earthquakes. In that case the telephone wouldn’t have stopped frightening people, because in the last weeks the island was shaking a lot. Then you would have never slept, because some nights we would wake up at least three times because of the rattling roof tiles, the jingling tableware and the rumbling earthquakes, however none of that sounding as loud as that 112-alert.

Not only Lesvos but also other parts of Greece are under the spell of the earthquakes that keep on rattling the earth. I am almost getting a bit used to it and as long as the paintings do not fall off the walls, I just roll over when hearing a quiver through the house. I try to guess the strength of the quake, take a deep breath and doze off again in my rocking bed. Next day I check on the internet if my guess of the strength of the quake was right: a 3,1, a 3,8 or even a 4,1. I start to understand this kind of art pretty well. 

The 112-telephone alert in no way alleviates the fact that it still rains inside my house. But I am very happy that the house still stands and that the committee for earthquakes hasn’t declared my house as uninhabitable, as has happened to some people in Molyvos and other villages. But I guess soon, in order to make repairs, I will be homeless for a few days, unless I want to keep on tripping over all the pots & pans on the floor.