Hooray for the dwarf wild irises!

Hello again!

When I went for a walk this morning along the cattle track La Cañada Real Soriana which skirts north of Posadas and Cordova, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the wild irises are out already. Above is just one example (I can’t include more at this stage because, as you might know already, I’m working on limited multimedia capacity!) — but I just couldn’t resist putting up this velvety delight:­-

Dwarf iris — Iris cristata (I think!)

The iris flower means wisdom, hope, trust, and valour and it inspired the fleur-de-lis decorative symbol used by French royalty.

In the 16th century BC, irises were introduced to Egypt from Syria and were used to decorate the sceptres of pharaohs, representing victory and power.

The Ancient Greeks associated irises to the goddess of the rainbow due to their wide variety of colours. Iris was a messenger for Zeus and Hera and accompanied female souls on their way to heaven. Even to this day irises are placed on women’s graves so that the Goddess will help them find their place in heaven.

Each colour represents different qualities:

Purple, for royalty and wisdom; white for purity; yellow — passion; and blue for faith and hope.

And to end this flowery blog, here’s a beautiful poem by the American, Madison Julius Cawein (Kentucky, March 23, 1865 – December 8, 1914). (His father made patent medicines from herbs, so it is not surprising Madison’s love for nature!)

Madison Julius Cawein (Wiki)

The Wild Iris

That day we wandered ‘mid the hills,-so lone
Clouds are not lonelier, the forest lay
In emerald darkness round us. Many a stone
And gnarly root, gray-mossed, made wild our way:
And many a bird the glimmering light along
Showered the golden bubbles of its song.

Then in the valley, where the brook went by,
Silvering the ledges that it rippled from,-
An isolated slip of fallen sky,
Epitomizing heaven in its sum,-
An iris bloomed-blue, as if, flower-disguised,
The gaze of Spring had there materialized.

I have forgotten many things since then-
Much beauty and much happiness and grief;
And toiled and dreamed among my fellow-men,
Rejoicing in the knowledge life is brief.
»Tis winter now,’ so says each barren bough;
And face and hair proclaim ‘tis winter now.

I would forget the gladness of that spring!
I would forget that day when she and I,
Between the bird-song and the blossoming,
Went hand in hand beneath the soft May sky!-
Much is forgotten, yea-and yet, and yet,
The things we would we never can forget.

Nor I how May then minted treasuries
Of crowfoot gold; and molded out of light
The sorrel’s cups, whose elfin chalices
Of limpid spar were streaked with rosy white:
Nor all the stars of twinkling spiderwort,
And mandrake moons with which her brows were girt.

But most of all, yea, it were well for me,
Me and my heart, that I forget that flower,
The blue wild iris, azure fleur-de-lis,
That she and I together found that hour.
Its recollection can but emphasize
The pain of loss, remindful of her eyes.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope you are keeping well. Bye for now xxx


Copper sulphate, Cicero and Aunt Marjorie in the countryside of Posadas (Cordova)

Hi folks, I hope that you are all well.

Firstly, sorry to say that the photos in this post and the last 5 posts have been eliminated due to insufficient space on the multimedia (see my later post for details…)

Yes, more days than usual have passed since my last blog, but that’s because we’ve been quite caught up with the olives — trees that is.

It’s time for a good dose of copper sulphate, and as you can see from the photos, my son adapted the trailer and 1000-litre tank with tubes and jets (where the spray comes out of and which look like megaphones) and an inline generator that starts the spraying action as he drives the old Surf along the lanes of trees.

This copper sulphate treatment has to be repeated twice a year, with the next time probably being in November depending on what the weather’s been like. (Luckily there was enough of the solution left over for me to spray my medlar, fig, almond and citrus trees, so now I’ll be busy treating those in my spare time.)

The work was supervised by others, as well as us:

It did involve a lot of walking too, so half way, I decided to survey the operation from a convenient lookout in one of the shrubbier areas:

As we all know, farmers work hard, and thanks to them we are well-supplied with food. I like Cicero’s saying about agriculture:

For of all gainful professions, nothing is better, nothing more pleasing, nothing more delightful, nothing better becomes a well-bred man than agricultureMarcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC ­— 43 BC).

Bust of Cicero in the Capitoline Museum, Rome (Wikipedia)

Cicero — ‘Roman statesman, scholar, and writer, known as the greatest Roman orator, and upholding republican principles in the final civil wars that destroyed the Roman Republic’ (Britannica).

And here is the first verse of a poem about agriculture, written by Margaret E. Sangster (Pen name, Aunt Marjorie 1838 – June 3, 1912). She was ‘an American poet, author, and editor. Her poetry was inspired by family and church themes, and included hymns and sacred texts’. (Wiki)

a "Woman of the Century"
M.E. Sangster ‘a woman of the century’ (Wiki)

The Farmer

The dawn is here! I climb the hill;
     The earth is young and strangely still;
A tender green is showing where
     But yesterday my fields were bare . . .
I climb and, as I climb, I sing;
     The dawn is here, and with it – spring!

When we did eventually get home, our old faithful was there to welcome us:

Dingo, our adopted dog that appeared sheepishly one day at our door, scared and just skin and bones. Now she’s much healthier and is another member of the family.

Thank you for reading. As usual, comments and questions are always welcome.

Take care! xxx

Ode to Olives — and a marinated olives recipe from Posadas (Cordova)

Hello, I hope this finds you all in good health and spirits.

A few blogs ago I put up photos of the olives I had picked and was scoring them before putting them in water to remove the bitterness so later I could pickle them.

Olive picking is underway, even on these young alberquina olive trees from my son’s finca
And here are some ‘manzanilla’ olives from our finca, as yet uncut because I just picked them today

Well, a couple of weeks have passed since scoring the first set of olives, and after having changed the water daily they are less bitter (or ‘sweeter’ as they would say in Spanish), so today was the pickling day. And here is what I did:

The olives in soak produce murky, oily water…
…so I drained and rinsed them.
I prepared my marinating ingredients which were (this time) fennel, oregano, thyme, garlic, a little chilli, bitter orange rind, bay leaf, salt and vinegar.
I sterilised my jars by putting them in boiling water…
…but I cracked one by adding water to it before letting it cool sufficiently!
After filling the jars with the ingredients and adding the olives, I placed them back into the semi-boiling water for about 10 minutes to produce a vacuum so they would be tightly sealed.
I did place a cloth on the base of the saucepan so that the glass wouldn’t crack (again!)
And here’s the final result! I will wait a good couple of weeks before opening a jar, so that they have sufficient time to marinate. For my next set of marinated olives I will be varying the ingredients, probably making some spicy with cumin and paprika …

And to finish, I’d like to include a beautiful poem by Pablo Nerudo (1904-1973, Chile, poet and politician:

Ode to Olive Oil

Near the murmuring
In the grain fields, of the waves
Of wind in the oat-stalks,

The olive tree

With its silver-covered mass
Severe in its lines
In its twisted
Heart in the earth:
The graceful
Olives
Polished
By the hands
Which made
The dove
And the oceanic
Snail:
Green,
Innumerable,
Immaculate
Nipples
Of nature
And there
In
The dry
Olive groves
Where
So alone
The sky, blue with cicadas
And the hard earth
Exist, 
There
The prodigy
The perfect
Capsules
Of the olives
Filling
With their constellations, the foliage: 
Then later,
The bowls,
The miracle,
The olive oil.

I love
The homelands of olive oil, 
The olive groves
Of Chacabuco, in Chile, 
In the morning
Feathers of platinum
Forests of them
Against the wrinkled
Mountain ranges.
In Anacapri, up above,
Over the light of the Italian sea
Is the despair of olive trees, 
And on the map of Europe, 
Spain
A black basketful of olives 
Dusted off by orange blossoms
As if by a sea breeze.

Olive oil,
The internal supreme

Condition for the cooking pot, 
Pedestal for game birds, 
Heavenly key to mayonnaise, 
Smooth and tasty
Over lettuce
And supernatural in the hell
Of king mackerels like archbishops.
Olive oil, in our voice, in
Our chorus

With
Intimate
Powerful smoothness
You sing:
You are the Spanish language; 
There are syllables of olive oil
There are words
Useful and rich-smelling
Like your fragrant material. 
It’s not only wine that sings
Olive oil sings too, 
It lives in us with its ripe light
And among the good things of the earth
I set apart
Olive oil,
Your ever-flowing peace, your green essence, 
Your heaped-up treasure 
Which descends
In streams from the olive tree.

A golden end to an olivey day!

Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed this blog. As usual, comments and questions always welcome.

Take care! xxx

My Ode to Autumn (here in the countryside of Posadas, Cordova)

Hi folks — I hope you are all in good health and spirits.

I love the warm hues of autumn and also the season, because of the richness of colours, the softening sun diluted by mists, the contrasting weather and the maturity of the ending year. Then there is Christmas with its brightness and promise just round the corner — as well as my birthday!

Well, I just wanted to share with you a few photos that reflect this season here in Posadas countryside (Cordova):

The leaves of the pistacia lentiscus (lentisco) or mastic gum bush are already turning to copper
The snowflakes (campanilla de primavera) and the buttercups (ranúnculo) are early because of the mild weather
Here are the snowflakes again, and they are in fact, as delicate as snowflakes
Vibrant-coloured leaves from the mulberry and plane tree (morera and platanero de sombra)
And the earth shines under warm skies
The evening gave way to a lovely sunset…
…with the moon rising to the east of the haunted castle of Almodóvar del Río
But the clouds quickly stole in overnight and by midday the heavens opened…
I watched the scene from my window…
and decided it was time to light a warming fire!

To finish, here is my favourite Ode to Autumn, by the romantic poet, John Keats (1795-1821):

Joseph Severn’s miniature of Keats, 1819

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel
shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
  Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies

Well, that’s all for now. If you’d like to see some more of my work, then you can visit this site.

Thank you for reading — as usual, comments and questions always welcome.

Take care! xxx