Only the Mountains do not Meet

That is an old Greek expression that means you can expect to meet people with whom you have some sort of connection as you travel around on your journey. That certainly was the case yesterday. We went for a long walk on the sandy beach of Capo de Gata and then settled down for a drink at a sea-side café. Joe went in to get the coffees and emerged triumphant with a compatriot of mine. Turns out this lovely Welsh girl could wave across the estuary to my cousins’ place in Llanelli. How lovely it was to hear her soft voice telling us her story! An intrepid cyclist (like my own daughter, Elizabeth) she was travelling over the mountains of Spain and had just finished three nights of camping in some abandoned houses in one of our favorite villages, Rodalquilar. I must say I admire people’s capacity for going on these adventures alone but as she explained in her quiet and modest way she was on an “interior journey”. No more was said about it and I thought how typical it was of her not to expand on what that meant – as so many would have. We were joined by a gentleman who obviously had some mental health problems – his desperation for us not to ignore him or leave made him talk non stop. Since the other two people at the table were the soul of kindness (Joe and our new friend Claire) I was free to throw out a few comments of a darker nature – sotto voce of course – about the need for “turn taking” in every conversation. Not to worry, all was carried away in the torrent of his fervent discourses on everything from philosophy to poetry and beyond. When he mentioned Mount Olympus I managed to convince him that I had, many years ago, climbed up to the refuge and spent a night there. He insisted on running home to get photographs of his own trip and in a few moments I was astounded to see him posed in a photo in front of the railings of the stone chalet where I once spent the night with my daughter, Helen. It was a mirror of the picture I have at home and as I looked around the table I thought how odd that the four of us should somehow have met that afternoon and woven strands of our time together.  “Only the Mountains do not Meet,” indeed.

As for the pictures of various local stones, they are proof that in some circumstances, even the mountains meet! Joe, a geophysicist by training, explained that millions of years ago volcanoes in the district spewed out lava that compressed various types of rock and melted them together forming a “melange” The melange at our table was interesting, beautiful and quirky. However, unlike the rocks of ages we were destined to part with many a promise to meet again.

This post today in honor of Mary Oliver who died yesterday. Explore this wonderful poet if you do not already know her. For humbler offerings see my poetry book, “Northern Compass” available on and

Sunny Winter Sky

  This may not be your idea of a botanical garden but it is one of my favorites. It is a shot of a rather bare spot in the garden in Rodalquilar in the province of Andalucia in Southern Spain. This pomegranate tree had only a few fruits left and those had been ravaged by the wild birds who live here. It was quiet, sunny and cool in the garden today. We were the only visitors, in fact! A kind attendant told us that the staff had been obliged to chip in to repair the tiller. Seems the Spanish burocracy is so dense that it just seemed easier to make a personal sacrifice than to wrestle with various levels of government. Contacts in the renown Kew Gardens of London are very interested in this unique garden which features native plants from the semi-desert environment. Their offer to translate all the information  panels lies mouldering  on the desk of a fonctionaire somewhere in the maze of Spanish offices that approve such projects. 
On a happier note, today in the garden we saw many happy insects, bees among them ravishing some lovely yellow flowers. Young olive trees nodded benignly at us, knowing they would outlive us by a century or so. On a neighbouring hill we could see the deserted gold mine. Rodalquilar is no longer a mining village but a haven for artists and writers. It is almost time for almonds trees to bloom and I am sure such a sight is more inspiring than any gold mine.