Tag Archives: wildflowers

SEASONS CHANGING

photo(8)Altitude sickness and laziness forced me to give up a night time climb of a live volcano in Guatemala once. Because, even in this desolate wild spot, there were, apparently, bandits hiding behind bushes ready to pluck watches and whatnot off passers-by, I wasn’t allowed to lie face down on the pumice and die which was my main desire, but was escorted down the scree and left with a farmer. The farmer lived in a house made of loose planks which had seven or 11 things things in it. I forget what exactly though one was a girly calendar and the other was a hen. I remember the hen well, because when our conversation faltered to a stop (I was hoping to be sick) he looked around his house for things to entertain me and settled on the hen, which he put, gently, lovingly in my arms.

Anyway, after a few more hours, I felt better and we ended up talking about farming. The farmer distinctly remembered the rainy season starting on October 1st every year. Without fail, for fifty years. You planned your year around it, he said: your planting, your harvests, your budgeting, celebrations and loan repayments. But of late things had gone haywire; the rainy season started in September one year and November another and no-one knew where they were with things. It was a mess.

It’s easy to think that change is a constant, and for nature to be so regular in its habits was a coincidence, myth or fluke. However you hear the same story around the world, and nothing but, around these parts – particularly and most recently about the unusual heat of last November and an unusual and worrying absence of rain that’s making the evergreen oaks (encinas) thirsty. The naturalist Andrés Rodriguéz says that thirty years ago, the almonds used to start flowering in the Serranía de Ronda at the end of February, but that a couple of years ago, he noticed it beginning in December, and someone recently sent him a photo of almonds flowering in early November.

Every year I’ve catalogued the wildflowers on the farm in dilettante fashion, keeping notes of when they’ve appeared (which I will have to attempt to decipher). I do know that the time and amount of flowering has been radically different. In 2014 I had enough figs to start an international fig export industry; in 2015 hardly any – so that’s a venture that would have been a write-off. In 2015 I sold crates of pomegranates at the village shop; last year I barely had enough for myself.
And now this year it’s hard to know what to expect. The cicadas were deafening for several nights in mid-February, the orange trees are in bloom again before the fruit has fallen, but at least the almonds flowered at the right time.
The old farmer in Guatemala was surprised by the onset of regular change. It was peculiar then. If he’s alive now in his exposed fragile home he’ll be a victim of change, buffeted by it and resigned to the fact no-one listens and no-one acts. I’m not sure what the age of change means but I reckon it’s probably trouble.

 

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This Month’s Blossom

Daisies below the hen house. Eventually, I’m going to need to cut some down in order to create a space for growing lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. However, the 6ft daisies are a great cover for wildlife (including hares). There are 2 or 3 acres of daisies so plenty will be left to stand wild.
The mountains are covered in flowers and will be for the next two months, although the different species will take their turns to shine.

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Olive and Yellow

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My land is yellow. So many yellow flowers carpet the olive fields, I should feel guilty not knowing what they are called. I don’t suppose it matters too much. Spring brings joy and a wildflower spectacular. Also warmth – it reached 24 degrees yesterday. It’s not heat that permeates the walls or roof of the house and stepping inside is like diving into a freshwater pool. I keep my coat by the door and put it on as I enter.

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