Yep — it’s already 35° C here in Posadas (Cordova) and some of us are already feeling the heat!
“How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven.” — Robert A. Heinlein US (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988)
Robert A. Heinlein was an American science fiction author, aeronautical engineer and naval officer. Known as the ‘dean of science fiction writers’, he, together with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered the “Big Three” of English-language science fiction authors.
He obviously had a higher understanding of cats too!
It’s an intense week here in Spain being Easter week. Unfortunately the numerous processions which take place every day in almost every city, town and village have been cancelled for the second year running due to Covid. However, there is a lot that the church has organised that you can take part in, in a controlled, safe way, complying with all the regulations — meditations, contemplation, talks, prayers, retreats, expositions, just to name a few.
So for now I would just like to share with you some photos of the statues and floats that are usually paraded along the streets; these are typically accompanied by the brass band and rows of hooded penitents that quietly shuffle along. To see more photos and read about the processions you can visitmy previous blog which I wrote last Easter Sunday.
This huge poster hangs from the façade of the parish church,Santa María de las Flores in Posadas. It reads:
‘Padre en tus manos enconmiendo mi espiritú…Yo soy la resurrección, la vida: el que cree en mi aunque haya muerto, vivirá… El que quiera siguirme, que se niegue a sí mismo, tome su cruz y me siga…’
which translates as:
‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit… I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes in me although having died, will live again… Whoever wants to follow me, let him renounce himself, carry his cross and follow me…’
The above photo is a representation of the Last Supper table. This is inside the parish church,Santa María de Las Flores in Posadas.
The following impressive statue of Mary, La Virgen de la Misericordia is in San Pedro church of Cordova.
I understand that all this might not be your cup of tea, but one just can’t help but appreciate the amount of artistic work and total devotion and dedication that these processions involve — take, for example, Mary’s cloak which is richly hand-embroidered — and that’s nothing to say about the woodwork, flower arrangements and craftsmanship in precious metals. Nor does it involve just this outward expression: it is accompanied by a quiet strength of faith, prayer, reflection and interiorism. It is a week of living and breathing the Word — a poignant and emotive time which culminates and comes to fruition on Easter Sunday.
Well, this just leaves me to early wish you all a Happy Easter and to wish you well.
As I mentioned in my last post —Bunnies and springtime flowers galore! — we have been suddenly inundated (here in the Cordovan hills) by seasonal birds that have made a comeback, as well as destructive caterpillars, lambkins and bunnies.
Two of the birds are regular visitors as you will see in the photos: there is the friendly Great Tit (Parus major) that alights on my window grilles, and though I like to flatter myself by presuming it has especially come to see me, I do know that the real excuse for it hovering by my window is to peck off any insects that have stuck on the glass. It calls out with its strident ‘chee-chee-chee-chee-chee!’
Then there is the hoopoe, that strikingly-coloured Old World bird with its zebra-coloured wings and crest. It is also called Upopa epops, and I used to mistake it for a woodpecker because of its long, curving beak.
This largish fella loves to perch itself on the neighbouring olive tree that grows just outside my bedroom window and carve its beak into the trunk in pursuit of bugs. It doesn’t build a nest, but simply adopts any hollows for its abode. It has a funny, distinctive call which sounds something like ‘Ku ku ku ku’… (pause) ‘ku ku ku’ (pause and repetitio unitatum…).
Interestingly enough, the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament banned this bird as a food source because it belongs to the same group as the vulture, eagle and pelican and therefore considered unclean and forbidden to Jews who deemed it ‘abhorrent and not to be eaten’. However, in 2008 it was declared the national bird of Israel (though the national animal of Israel is the gazelle).
Just to say that I wasn’t able to write a usual mid-week blog because apart from my online teaching and writing work, I’ve been quite busy trying to prepare a few items for my online Etsy shop.
I have been inspired by the sudden explosion of springtime flowers here in Posadas (in the province of Cordova) which has happened a little earlier than usual.
There has also been a return of many species of birds, including my usual visitors, the hoopoe, blue tit and partridges (which will feature in my next blog…), as well as loads of bunnies and hares, little lambs and baby goats (already smelling of acidy milk!).
The things I don’t approve of (that is until they have reached their beautiful butterfly stage) are the caterpillars — we have been inundated with them! They have drilled into my iris flower buds, chomped their way steadily through my broad bean plantlets and are causing havoc to any budding grape vines which haven’t been previously sprayed. Now I don’t like to use pesticides or chemicals, so it is quite a normal sight for me to go rushing out into my garden and vegetable patch first thing in the morning (usually still in my fluffy pyjamas and mules) and run up and down the rows of plants, flicking off these furry creatures.
(I don’t know what our neighbour must think when he spies me from afar with his extra-strong binoculars, which I know he does because he did openly admit it one day when we were sat together having a leche manchada — milky coffee: his excuse is that he likes to invigilate our house as well as his for security reasons, as we do live out in the sticks a bit and we only have mastiffs and an adopted mongrel as alarms.)
Anyway, to cut a long story short, here are a couple of photos explaining what I’ve been up to since last we met…
And here is a merry little poem about spring (yes, I know I’m being a bit premature, but try telling that to the Cordobese flowers and bunnies!)
Spring by William Blake — (London 1757–1827) ‘Poet, painter, engraver, and visionary… considered one of the leading lights of English poetry’ — The Poetry Foundation.
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers, From the seas and the streams; I bear light shade for the leaves when laid In their noonday dreams. From my wings are shaken the dews that waken The sweet buds every one, When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast, As she dances about the sun. I wield the flail of the lashing hail, And whiten the green plains under, And then again I dissolve it in rain, And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below, And their great pines groan aghast; And all the night ‘tis my pillow white, While I sleep in the arms of the blast. Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers, Lightning my pilot sits; In a cavern under is fettered the thunder, It struggles and howls at fits; Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion, This pilot is guiding me, Lured by the love of the genii that move In the depths of the purple sea; Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills, Over the lakes and the plains, Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream, The Spirit he loves remains; And I all the while bask in Heaven’s blue smile, Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes, And his burning plumes outspread, Leaps on the back of my sailing rack, When the morning star shines dead; As on the jag of a mountain crag, Which an earthquake rocks and swings, An eagle alit one moment may sit In the light of its golden wings. And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath, Its ardours of rest and of love, And the crimson pall of eve may fall From the depth of Heaven above, With wings folded I rest, on mine aëry nest, As still as a brooding dove.
That orbèd maiden with white fire laden, Whom mortals call the Moon, Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor, By the midnight breezes strewn; And wherever the beat of her unseen feet, Which only the angels hear, May have broken the woof of my tent’s thin roof, The stars peep behind her and peer; And I laugh to see them whirl and flee, Like a swarm of golden bees, When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent, Till calm the rivers, lakes, and seas, Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high, Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone, And the Moon’s with a girdle of pearl; The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim, When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl. From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape, Over a torrent sea, Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof, The mountains its columns be. The triumphal arch through which I march With hurricane, fire, and snow, When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair, Is the million-coloured bow; The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove, While the moist Earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water, And the nursling of the Sky; I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores; I change, but I cannot die. For after the rain when with never a stain The pavilion of Heaven is bare, And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams Build up the blue dome of air, I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again.
The mimosa tree’s already in flower. Well, it’s not actually in FULL flower, but I thought I’d better take a photo of it today as rain is forecast and so the flowers won’t look fluffy and chick-like anymore, but will become rather shrunken and consolidated! The scent from the tree is delicately perfumed…
Here are the opening verses of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley about the mimosa:
The Sensitive Plant— Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 Sussex, England –1822 Tuscany, Italy)
This poem was written during the early 1820’s when Shelley was living with his wife in Pisa and was experiencing difficulties in his marriage after the death of his child, Will. The poem describes a garden full of flowers which is attended by a lady, and the flower that stands out from all the others is the mimosa, or ‘sensitive plant’. The three sections of the poem reflect the seasons and there is a contrast between night and day and between the flowers and stars. This reflects the feeling of man’s temporalness compared to the eternity of the universe…
In the secret language of flowers, mimosa represents secret love, safety and increased sensitivity. Belonging to the acacia family it is also the symbol of gold, sun and a triumphant life — something I think we all would like!
Firstly, sorry to say that the photos in this post and the last 4 posts have been eliminated due to insufficient space on the multimedia (see my later post for details…)
As you may or may not know, today is the Epiphany, or Three Kings (or Reyes Magos, as it is known here in Spain) — the day when presents are given.
Last night I found my present — the first almond blossom! And here it is…
The Three Kings is a day that is very celebrated here in Spain when presents are traditionally exchanged. Usually floats bearing the Kings Gasper, Balthazar and Melchor, together with loads of sweets and presents are paraded along the streets, to the delight of the thronging crowds. Although these parades have been banned this year due to THE virus, children (and adults) can still give their letters to The Three Kings the day before, asking what they wish for.
Below is a photo taken from our local village Posadas, inviting people to come (in an orderly fashion with everyone wearing masks of course!)
And to finish, here’s a poem from one of my favourite authors, D.H. Lawrence. (Mind you, to be honest, I didn’t realise til lately that he started out as a poet.) For his short biography here is an interesting link.
Almond Blossom — D.H Lawrence (England, 1885- France, 1930)
Even iron can put forth,
This is the iron age,
But let us take heart
Seeing iron break and bud,
Seeing rusty iron puff with clouds of blossom.
December’s bare iron hooks sticking out of earth.
That knows the deadliest poison, like a snake
In supreme bitterness.
Upon the iron, and upon the steel,
Odd flakes as if of snow, odd bits of snow,
Odd crumbs of melting snow.
But you mistake, it is not from the sky;
From out the iron, and from out the steel,
Flying not down from heaven, but storming up,
Strange storming up from the dense under-earth
Along the iron, to the living steel
In rose-hot tips, and flakes of rose-pale snow
Setting supreme annunciation to the world.
Nay, what a heart of delicate super-faith,
The rusty swords of almond-trees.
Trees suffer, like races, down the long ages.
They wander and are exiled, they live in exile through long ages
Like drawn blades never sheathed, hacked and gone black,
The alien trees in alien lands: and yet
The heart of blossom,
The unquenchable heart of blossom!
Look at the many-cicatrised frail vine, none more scarred and frail,
Yet see him fling himself abroad in fresh abandon
From the small wound-stump.
Even the wilful, obstinate, gummy fig-tree
Can be kept down, but he’ll burst like a polyp into prolixity.
And the almond-tree, in exile, in the iron age!
This is the ancient southern earth whence the vases were baked, amphoras, craters, cantharus, oenochoe, and open-hearted cylix,
Bristling now with the iron of almond-trees
Iron, but unforgotten,
Ever-beating dawn-heart, enveloped in iron against the exile, against the ages.
See it come forth in blossom
From the snow-remembering heart
In long-nighted January,
In the long dark nights of the evening star, and Sirius, and the Etna snow-wind through the long night.
Sweating his drops of blood through the long-nighted Gethsemane
Into blossom, into pride, into honey-triumph, into most exquisite splendour.
Oh, give me the tree of life in blossom
And the Cross sprouting its superb and fearless flowers!
Something must be reassuring to the almond, in the evening star, and the snow-wind, and the long, long, nights,
Some memory of far, sun-gentler lands,
So that the faith in his heart smiles again
And his blood ripples with that untenable delight of once-more-vindicated faith,
And the Gethsemane blood at the iron pores unfolds, unfolds,
Pearls itself into tenderness of bud
And in a great and sacred forthcoming steps forth, steps out in one stride
A naked tree of blossom, like a bridegroom bathing in dew, divested of cover,
Frail-naked, utterly uncovered
To the green night-baying of the dog-star, Etna’s snow-edged wind
And January’s loud-seeming sun.
Think of it, from the iron fastness
Suddenly to dare to come out naked, in perfection of blossom, beyond the sword-rust.
Think, to stand there in full-unfolded nudity, smiling,
With all the snow-wind, and the sun-glare, and the dog-star baying epithalamion.
Oh, honey-bodied beautiful one,
Come forth from iron,
Red your heart is.
Fragile-tender, fragile-tender life-body,
More fearless than iron all the time,
And so much prouder, so disdainful of reluctances.
In the distance like hoar-frost, like silvery ghosts communing on a green hill,
Hoar-frost-like and mysterious.
In the garden raying out
With a body like spray, dawn-tender, and looking about
With such insuperable, subtly-smiling assurance,
No bounds being set.
Flaked out and come unpromised,
The tree being life-divine,
Fearing nothing, life-blissful at the core
Within iron and earth.
Knots of pink, fish-silvery
In heaven, in blue, blue heaven,
Soundless, bliss-full, wide-rayed, honey-bodied,
Red at the core,
Red at the core,
Knotted in heaven upon the fine light.
Five times wide open,
Six times wide open,
And given, and perfect;
And red at the core with the last sore-heartedness,