Hunting almonds, finding citrus



IMG_7558This is almond blossom time in Andalusia. How beautiful it is to see the pink or white blossoms appear on bare stems. Even before leaves appear the flowers burst forth in a calculated gamble to get fertilized. That’s what it’s all about in nature, after all! Since insects are starving for pollen and very little else is flowering, the almonds are mobbed by bees and wasps. The only drawback is that one really cold night can ruin the blossoms and destroy the harvest that year. There’s a Greek folksong that mirrors the gamble of declaring your love too soon and getting burned. It was the inspiration for a poem I wrote a long time ago.

We had tremendous wind for two days and I wondered if the almond blossoms had survived. Last year we found a beautiful village, Lucainena de las Torres, less than hour’s drive from the coast where we are staying.  There was a stunning orchard of almond blossoms outside the village. We decided to go back to see how showy the trees were this year. This year we approached the village by a reasonable road. In 2018 we persevered along 18 km of hairpin bends with two or three places to pass an oncoming vehicle. There were no guardrails in spite of spectacular gorges that yawned on the passenger (my) side. Of course we met no one on our way as all the locals studiously avoid the mountain road and take the “highway”. We had no way of knowing that until we tottered into a bar in the village seeking a shot of brandy to restore our shredded nerves. Some very nice English people told us about the alternative road but it was cold comfort after having inched along for what felt like an eternity expecting a truck to confront us at any moment.

Because we took a different road this week we did not see the massed almond trees but in the village we had a lovely surprise. Have you ever noticed how village dogs bark most viciously? As we were climbing the steep hill to one of the town sights, a “Lavatorio” or public wash-house complete with covered troughs of water and scrubbing boards, a couple of dogs set up a ferocious barking. We scuttled past one, snarling away behind a link fence and then to my alarm the owner of the other opened the gate and out came a fairly large dog who really did not seem “encantada” to see us. His mistress turned out to be a most charming English woman who kindly invited us in to see her garden. By this time doggie had settled down. Turns out she was a rescue dog. As always, fear and anxiety make us bark!

Joe, who is a great gardener didn’t need to be asked twice. One very beautiful and interesting old tree was the citrus shown in the picture. You can see that it is an orange that has had a lemon grafted onto it many years ago. This means that the tree produces both fruits. Winter is time for oranges, tangerines and lemons and the tree was quite laden down. We had a a chat about gardens and about living in Spain. Although Brexit looms like a dark cloud I  believe  the considerable number of Brits who live in this rather obscure village will manage to stay somehow. Successful grafts, thriving and producing good fruit

Check out my poetry book “Northern Compass” on or

(the Almond poem is in it)

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