Predicting the weather by interpreting signs in the sky or from the activity
of a volcano is not a gratuitous traditional activity. It requires from
a sailor a real competence. And the performance is always important and
Surdo the fisherman prognosticates the weather to come after the
direction of the smoke-plume spitted by the Stromboli.
There is a
second way of interpreting the practices and comments of Lipariot fishermen
that does not exclude the previous one. It consists of identifying the vocabulary
and listing the vivid expressions they use to define the phenomena they
observe and use for their prediction. They sometimes speak of the "wind
eye". What do they mean by that? I have mentioned above the proverb Quando
Stromboli fa fanali ... That refers to the intermittent lights often observed
during the phases of activity of the volcano. These expressions no doubt
refer to local short typical meteorological phenomena that foreign observers
cannot understand for lack of means to identify them and words to name them.
A fisherman has to decide if he sets sail or not. And the decision he makes
has always a stake : a good fishing, his equipment to recover, and sometimes
even his life to save. Far from being gratuitous, the interpretation of
signs is a serious business that requires knowledge and competence. Wright
or wrong prediction inducean immediate sanction sometimes final. A sqall
breaks out or clouds clear away. One has to fish along the east or west
coast and take shelter or not. If volcano smokes paradoxically point to
the east as if winds were blowing from the west, while at sea surface winds
blow from the east and set to the west (photo), this is a sign that winds
are going to change. One must then go fishing somewhere "toward the wind"
that blows in the islands, since one will be sheltered as it changes. Experience
shows tha it is a reasonable decision.
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frequently working in the field or on nautical expedition.