Year of Grace, Day 233. The almond orchards of Rasquera

One thing I’m going to miss when we leave the Lower Ebro region is the almond blossom of Rasquera. The orchards are at their most splendid bloom just now, a full month earlier than last year. Their breathtaking beauty is so reminiscent of cherry blossoms.

They are stunning with the mountains behind them.

And much like the gently coloured mist that cherry blossoms create in Japan in spring, all over Rasquera, the almond blossoms fill me with wonder and gratitude at such beauty.

May your spring, wherever you are, be as full of wonder!

For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land … And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. … Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!'” — Song of Solomon Chapter 2: 11-13. 


Year of Grace, Day 231. Back from Valencia

It’s amazing what a difference a few hours’ driving south from Tarragona can make. Crossing into Valencia in late January was bidding Catalonian winter and its fierce chilling winds goodbye. As soon as we passed the delta of the Ebro River, almond trees were all out in splendid bloom, from white to dark pink and all shades in between.


On the road from La Llacuna to L'Orxa

On the road from La Llacuna to L’Orxa

Road to L'Orxa almond blossom zoom vg_2401We had set out for a brief foray into the region of La Safor – also known as Costa Azahar or the Orange Blossom Coast. It stretches south of the city of Valencia and before touristy Costa Blanca. The past glorious week was more than enough to convince M and I that there indeed was a more benign and welcoming climate for us: for me especially, as with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, winter is becoming increasingly challenging. We were enjoying 22ºC at mid-afternoon – just about summer. Sun and warmth and almond blossoms – and the heady perfume of orange blossoms soon to come. Ahhh… Valencia promises bliss.

And the food! The food! There is a vast variety of paellas that do not find their way into restaurants, being made exclusively at home. As everyone knows, Valencia is the homeland of paella. And I’ve already been promised by a new-found friend, also a keen cook, to be taught how to prepare these zealously guarded seasonal dishes.

Paella de chipiron, Casa Babel in Villalonga

Paella de chipiron, Casa Babel in Villalonga

Watch this space, my friends. We’ll be cooking Valencian in no time at all. Or more precisely La Saforian….

Year of Grace, Day 228. Promising an early Catalonian spring

I am told by L’Ametlla de Mar residents that it’s an unusually mild winter, even at 5°C. Notwithstanding my own misgivings, the almond trees seem to agree. As early as the first of January, there have been blossoms on the trees closest to the sea and its weather-tempering influence. Last year, it was only in late February and early March that the almond blossoms began to bloom. But here they are this year, stalwartly blooming in the middle of an olive grove, despite the chilling winds of the Mistral and Levante, promising an early spring.

Almond blossom cut

I only hope late frosts don’t undo any fertilization some early, diligent bees have managed, or there won’t be any nuts to look forward to, come late summer.

Year of Grace, Day 113. A Mediterranean spring

The full glory of spring in the Mediterranean – with red poppies and all sorts of wildflowers sprinkling the earth — is still to come, but right now, the almond trees are in full blossom, and it is already more than marvelous. The bright yellow mimosa blossoms are out too. And underneath, sweet alyssum, with their honey scent, provide a perfumed carpet. Several clumps of asphodel are blooming too. It is truly a wonderful awakening for the earth from its winter sleep. To be here to witness and enjoy nature’s awakening – I am truly grateful. Someone once said that our purpose on this earth is to praise and to wonder. On this day, I cannot help being full of wonder and praise.

Almond branch cropped vg