“It is a most certain truth, that the richer we see ourselves to be, confessing at the same time our poverty, the greater will be our progress, and the more real our humility.” St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
It has been an unusually trying month, one way and another, and without the tenacity, optimism and joy that we both continue to have – plus the support that we give to each other – then maybe one or other of us would have fallen by the wayside. During this post I’m not going to bang on about the men and machines, or what seems like some sort of conspiracy to make life as difficult as possible for us.
Our mantra is, and has been for some considerable time now: “nothing matters” and this has been very successful in getting us through. However, sometimes a bit of re-alignment is necessary, particularly by me as twice this week I have watched myself shake with impotent rage. But I’ll leave all that ’til the next post.
A few weeks ago, when we walked down the track below us to the overgrown, deliciously wild bit that hasn’t been touched by the digger yet, we came across this amazing flower. It was just there, about ten inches tall, rising up out of the earth. If you magnify the picture on the left you can just see it centre right at the edge of the track. It had a weird brown red stem, no leaves, its flowers like white dotted amethysts. Truly a wonder of nature.
My meagre grasp of botany told me it was probably a parasitic plant because of the lack of green leaves. As their name suggests, these plants usually live off a host plant, tree, or dead wood. We have several parasitic Broomrapes ‘flowering’ (if you can call it that) on our land at the moment, and there is certainly a similarity. I love them; they look almost primeval! There is a Purple Broomrape has a similarity. Trawling the net, I found a Spanish plant that looked quite likely too, with a tongue-twister of a name, “Phelipanche portoilicitana“, a member of the Orobanchaceae family. Anyway, the jury’s out.
It looks kind of rare though, doesn’t it? However, its days were numbered as it was sited rather unfortunately on the fourth and final crevasse in the path of the monster machine and within a few days it was swept away by the tide of progress. Here’s an ‘after’ pic, with digger. I’m so glad we had that opportunity to take the photo.
It’s gratifying to see how well the evergreens are growing, especially the arizonicas surrounding the house – just what we wanted. It’s not just that they give us some protection from the winds, but also that the more they grow, the more they shield us from prying eyes. The cypresses that line the drive have sprung up too, surprisingly really as we stopped regularly watering them last year. Compare how they looked in 2006 with now!
Twice yesterday, I saw a metre long, rather fat sand lizard with bright green body. He seems to be living around the wooden verandah and as he didn’t see me I had a great opportunity to study him as he waddled slowly around his domain. No photo yet, though.
I read that it was a custom in Spain to find a nice fat, juicy lizard and cook it “in tomato, with a spot of garlic and rosemary”. The allegedly toad-like Spanish gourmet Nestor Luján enjoyed lizard and claimed it tasted of the country, of thyme and rosemary. He recommended the Extramaduran recipe – in salsa verde with white wine. Luckily, times have changed; the Marxist gourmet and thriller writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán noted in his culinary ‘Diccionario Indispensable para la Supervivencia’ (2003) that ” given the rarity of this simpatico animal, it would better not to eat it, but to give it things to eat .”
I’ve got two blurred photos, not worthy of inclusion here, of snakes we’ve recently encountered. One was an Iberian adder that disappeared under the digger. The second was a large snake at least half a metre long that was crossing the road in front of us – we had to slow down to give him time to sidle across.
Something I did photograph was a baby Moorish gecko (I used to spell it ‘gekko’ but think this spelling is more accurate), easier to take a shot of him because he wasn’t going anywhere! I was doing a rare spot of housework and found his desiccated body on the sun room floor, poor little love. Still, there seems to be plenty more where he came from.
We’ve had blue skies and temperatures in the region of 28-30 deg C. The bushes and plants are alive with bustling insects. While Joe continues his quest for stones and hardcore to complete the huge wall, I’ve been out and about doing my best to capture on camera some reasonable images that will hopefully make up for my three failures mentioned above!
This striped shield bug is exquisite and looks as though he’s been painted by hand. The green thing is a type of bush cricket that loves to devour oleander leaves, which are poisonous to humans and goats.
Vetches are mini sweet peas and, although I was excited at first when we first discovered them a few years back, I find them a bit of a nuisance as they grow in profusion and wind their tendrils around everything. Having said that, they are very pretty up close, especially against this background – a rich seam of quartz along one of our banks.
And how about this beauty? A bee orchid makes its debut appearance in Foggie Land! But, the problem is there are so many kinds of bee orchid that I can’t quite work out which type it is! I’ve just taken delivery of a book via Ebay by the wonderful Roger Phillips on grasses and sedges, so hopefully I can start working my way through the identification process of our grasses, although many of our species have seeded and gone over. I also bought a watercolour set – you never know, one of these fine days I might reproduce one of my flower painting masterpieces for your delectation…