Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday morning 7.30

The sky overhead is blue this morning: lavender blue overhead, shading through cornflower and azure - possibly cerulean! - towards the white gold glitter of the rising sun. There are house martins whizzing and squeaking in all that blue, white undersides catching the sun. They crisscross the sky quite randomly, then get sociable and start wheeling - some clockwise, some anticlockwise. Then they all whizz off again.

That summer I spent in Andalucia, there were lots of martins living in the eaves of the barn. In the mornings they would assemble in gossiping hordes on the telephone wire that ran from barn to house, taking turns to throw themselves into the air, swooping and diving in all directions. In the late afternoons we would see them flitting about, warming up like joggers, and then they would skim across the swimming pool, scooping water in their beaks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Desert Island

I don't know if the radio programme Desert Island Discs is still running - I never actually listened to it, and I think it was on when I was a child - but I've now found the The Book I would take with me: The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. I'm on page 180, and I'd even settle for those first 180 pages. Fortunately, I don't have to.


Friday, April 11, 2008

"Hasta el cuarenta de mayo no te quites el sayo"

'Don't cast a clout til May is out.'

or, as they say here,

"Until the 40th of May, don't cast a clout, olé."
My friend the weather pessimist told me that one. (When I was whimpering about the cold November nights, she threatened me with icicles and burst pipes in January.)

A clout's a cloth, by the way.

Spring arrived last week. I remember it distinctly. Gorgeous, it was. I didn't wear a jacket for three days. I bought new clothes. In Spring colours. I bought new sandals.

I wore my new sandals on Monday, and it rained cats and dogs. It rained stair-rods. It poured. It bucketed. It's been doing it ever since.

So I'm back in my boots, jacket, polonecks and corduroy skirt this week - actually, I don't mind in the least. Quack!
I found this list of Spanish seasonal weather proverbs for anyone planning a wedding.

In loose translation:

- January blossoms don't make it to the fruit bowl.

- If January's a villain, February's worse.

- Crazy little February, windy March and rainy April make for a beautiful, flower-filled May.

- If you haven't seen the storks by San Blas (February 3) expect a year of snow.

- When March mays, then May marches!

- If March doesn't march, then April will be windy.

- April brings a thousand rains. And if the billy goat goes out for us, there'll be loads of rain. (?!?!?!) (Abril, lluvias mil. Y si nos sale cabrón, lluvias a mogollón )

- Water in May, bread all year long.

- In August and January, don't sunbathe without a hat.

- Don't walk in August, or sail in December.

- September either takes out bridges or dries up streams.

- Light your fire at the beginning of November.

- In December, canes freeze and chestnuts are roasted.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring on the mountain - green, grey and white

Fresh air

This time we took a different sort of train

to a different sort of place.

We didn't realise, when said train stopped beside a fence, that this was in fact Cercedilla Pueblo (two minutes up an olden-gauge track from Cercedilla - it's younger, and bigger, sister). I shot along the carriage to ask the driver's friend/brother/cousin if this was the station - just as the train started moving. It was. So they stopped the train and let us off, merely suggesting we be a bit quicker off the mark next time ...................... Coo!

So there we were in the middle of gorgeous nowhere - the foothills of the Guadarrama mountains, actually - in search of mountains, woods, and a complete absence of bright lights, noisy city.

Well, a cafetería and panedería, first - no breakfast, no coffee, and no bread for our picnic! Having sorted that bit, we consulted a roadside tourist map, and picked a road to walk up.

After a bite to eat overlooking a cow field, we turned off the road (too many cars), and up a wide sandy path into the woods.

We passed some handsome gardens on one side, and meadows with cattle and horses on the other. All the cows in Cercedilla have bells around their necks, which bongle constantly as they graze: it could drive you nuts because the sound carries, but it's so mellow and comfortable, that it seems to blend with all the other country noises. I liked it.

We had a stream for company at first.

Then the path started winding up, and up, in long shallow sweeps.

There was shade overhead, birdsong all around, and the ultimate luxury carpet of pine needles and cones underfoot. Nice and easy for the townies!

There were plenty of signs of last Autumn and Winter

and plenty more of the new Spring

Though the most spectacular sights had to do with long decay and slow, steady regeneration.

I heard a cuckoo, a real one, for the first time in my life. It really did sing 'Cuckoo'

out there somewhere.