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Spanish Mountain Life, Part 3

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 11:14 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Spanish Mountain Life, part 3

by Juliette de Bairacli-Levy


We also took walks on the mountain every morning, despite the cold of that unnatural Andalusian spring. The breath of the sierra wind was icy; snow and hail came in it often enough. It was colder than anything that I had known elsewhere in Europe, including the French Alps in February, or even during mid-winter on the sea-coast beyond Istanbul in Turkey.


The Sierra Nevada peasants said: 'This wind enters the heart of the bones', and they would wrap their woollen cloaks tighter around their lean bodies. But Raflk and I had no woollen clothes, for I had expected to find the hot Andalusian sun which I had known in the spring in Granada two years ago. We shivered in our thin clothes and were thankful when the evening brazier of olive-wood charcoal was lit in our room in the inn and we could warm away the cold of the day.


I could not forgo our walks despite the snow and rain. For all the terraced slopes of the fertile lower areas of the sierra were in blossom. Fruit trees of every kind seemed as multitudinous as the sierra animals, and the blossom lay lovely upon them, of all colours of white and pink, from the ivory of pear flowers to the darker rose hue of quince and almond. Green-white was the most fragrant blossom of orange and lemon trees. Trees in blossom, seen against a turquoise sky when the rains cleared, are a fair thing, and later the carmine of pomegranate flowers against the blue was the loveliest of all.


I knew some sadness when all the snow melted on the sierra heights around Lanjaron, for the eternal snow of the Sierra Nevada was on higher ranges, out of walking or mule-riding distance of the molino Gongoras. But with the melting of the snow came the wild purple irises, tall as Rafik, beautiful banners of them along the borders of the streams and waving upon the wet parts of the foothills. Their scent was a delight and I gathered armfuls of them for my room in the water-mill. They flowered at Eastertime, the Semana Santa of Spain, and the peasants told me that they represented the pain of Christ; certainly the purple iris was much used in the church processions of that holy week.


Later, the peasants also said that the white Madonna lily- the azucena, so celebrated in songs and dances of Spain represented the happiness of Christ, his triumph over death, and that the white lilies would blossom when the irises had died away. And that was so. So soon as the irises had withered on the mountain, the madonna lilies flowered thick along the border of the upper mill stream of the molino Gongoras, and like the white of swans were reflected in the sunlit waters of the stream. They too then had their turn in the church processions, especially the June celebration of Corpus Christi.


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