Since we bought him last year our old workhorse, Mitty the Mitsubishi, has been leaking spots of black oil on the scalpings. Nothing to worry about, we thought, old cars do this. But, I’m afraid that the poor thing has developed rather a nasty – and unidentifiable to us – noise, and prudence tells us that if we continue to drive him, the outcome could be very nasty indeed on our precipitous trackways. Mitty is very well made and sturdy, and must have been quite a luxurious motor in his heyday. But today he sits alone and forlorn, with just the caravan for company. He’s obviously got an oil leak, but a cursory examination underneath has left Joe none the wiser as to its origin. So, I will try and find a sympathetic engineer who can come out here to administer first aid and hopefully give Mitty a few more years of life.
As I looked around me I had to laugh, for here in this idyllic place the ground was littered with brightly coloured shotgun cartridges – reminded me of a few photos I’ve posted recently of local basura (waste) tips showing the tendency around these parts to be – how shall I say – a little indiscriminate as to where they place said rubbish. Presumably when the grass grows, these instruments of death will be well hidden, that is, until winter time when probably more will be added to the pile.
I was going to say that something else ugly caught my eye while I was wandering around with my camera. But having looked at this processionary caterpillar nest, I found it a thing of beauty, although my stomach was turned by the writhing, dangerous, striped hairy things inside that were now fleeing the nest and dropping to the ground. I fervently hoped no animals would come into their orbit until they’re safely underground to fulfill the next stage of their life cycle, to emerge as moths towards the end of the summer.
“We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree.” Pablo Casals.
We haven’t had any turbulent weather for over a week now, and for the last three nights we haven’t lit the log burner. Has spring finally sprung? Tiny bunches of baby acorns are appearing on some of our encina (holly oak) trees, and I noticed these baby cones on a different species of pine tree to ours. Our four remaining silver birches are throwing out their delicate, beautifully shaped leaves, and most of our vines are now in early leaf. Even some rose geranium cuttings I took a month or so back have burst into life.
And our mulberries have lasted another winter too! I found it fascinating to read that in the late 15th century the production of silk was big business around here with no fewer than 40 villages involved, between them employing some 150,000 workers. They looked after the trees, the moths, the caterpillars, threading the cocoons, preparing the silk skeins, dyeing and weaving. The real skill lay in retarding or advancing the incubation to coincide with the mulberry trees breaking new leaves after winter.
There are just a few of the original trees left around our locality, but it seems that some local authorities are starting to replant mulberries as a reminder of their glorious past! Well, I like to think we’ve beaten them to it, because we’ve now had our two sturdy specimens for the last 4 years. I’m now on the alert to see if we get visited by some very pale slate blue-grey, sometimes banded in black, caterpillars. But I fear we will never have a commercial enterprise on our land as we would need approximately 12,000 caterpillars to consume 20 sacks of mulberry leaves per day, and 220kg of leaves produces a modest 1kg of silk. I love silk, but that’s ridiculous!