Thornton Wildee called Rome the northernmost point in Africa. Tuscany is just a little north of Rome. It, too, is Africa when it comes to birds and summer heat.
For three springs now I've noticed the first feathered inkling of Africa, right around Easter, above the tiny pieve (chapel) marking the turn to the white road that leads to our property, sitting on a telephone wire as it's mate forages on the ground. It is the pushme-pullyou hammerhead of birds. Somewhat woodpeckerish, in low light you can't tell which way it is looking because it seems to sprout beaks from both sides of it's head.
It is a bird of habit and of place and reassuringly returns each year to this same little pocket of Africa at the northernmost edge of its range. It is the bellwether bird. And for 3 Tuscan springs I have known the good weather has arrived when I see the hoepoe perched on the line at the turn-off to Tana Lepre (Hare's Den). This morning, there they were -- the hoepoe and il bel tempo.
Tomorrow the bed arrives and I will nestle in!