This morning I woke up to an island shrouded in mist, a rose gold dawn of cockerels and damp. Autumn beckons and the weather is changing. I notice these things, not least because I sleep out of doors from June until the first rains come, sometime in October. It is too hot to sleep inside, under the tin roof with no fans to stir the stagnant air. I prefer to take my chances with the mosquitoes and wake with the sun. As we edge towards the equinox sunrise is ever later but the dawn chorus in the valley still starts long before first light, an accompaniment of crows, brays, twitters and bleats that gradually draws me to wakefulness by 6 a.m. If I should dare to sleep on, the cats come to find me and knead me into the world, demanding breakfast.
Time to head up the terraces into the house and put the percolator on the stove for the first coffee pot of the day. Coffee and the BBC news. Living off the grid is not synonymous with living in ignorance. We have a satellite dish and a basic decoder that allows us to pick up the BBC and other free-to-air stations. We watch the news every morning. The ripples of world events wash our shores and Symi has been effected by everything from global economic problems to the war in Syria and attempted coup in Turkey. We cannot pretend that because we live on a tiny island that we are safe from the vagaries of world events. The effects of climate change face me every morning as I look at dead or dying trees in my groves and orchards. Since we bought our farm in 1995 we have seen thriving almonds, apricots, peaches and pears die off due to extreme summers and dry winters. Last year our olive trees also started to die off. It is not just us. All over the island deciduous fruit and nut trees have died. Endemic conifers are also showing strain and even as far north as the island of Leros we saw dead and dying indigenous trees.