Walking in the rain, jumping across puddles, squelching through mud. This May is not what you would expect from the normally arid foothills of the Velino massif in Abruzzo. It does have its charm though and many plants, particularly the trees, thrive in the warm wet conditions. You can almost hear them grow. But others are finding it hard to adapt and the meadows are strewn with half rotten, soggy flowerheads of orchids, rockroses and flax. The cuckoos are in full call and in a quick undulating flash of colour, a hoopoe flies across the clearing in front of me. I stand for a while under a hazel tree, looking up through the dripping leaves at the colourless sky. Just breathing. Just one of the many life forms around me waiting for the sun.