Tag Archives: Spanish countryside

April in the valley 2017

Think of a colour, and at the moment in the valley there is a wildflower. Blue vinca, white hawthorn, pink Arabian pea, greeny Cypress spurge, yellow charlock, and the promised red of peony plus scarlet berries. Even the threshing patch has a yellow flush as wildflowers and fresh grass grow thigh-high. And all around us is green: ivy green, grass green, wheat green, wild oats green, leaf green, moss green. I love this time of year.

5 to remember
en el momento – at the moment
una flor silvestre – a wildflower
las escarlata – scarlet
un color – a flush
amo – I love

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Green, everywhere in the #secretvalley & wildflowers of every colour #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Ub

Galls in springtime

As summer approaches, it is almost time for gall wasps to lay new eggs. But last year’s galls are still around. I’ve written about galls before, in the autumn before and after hatching. Galls are tough, they hang onto trees through winter storms, or fall and bounce. These are galls which have over-wintered, day-by-day being hidden by the fresh green growth on the holm oak trees. They are mysterious objects, like small packages containing a secret. Which of course they did. There are about 1300 different species of gall wasp, and 70% choose a type of oak tree as host plant. The holes may be either exits, or attack holes by predators such as woodpeckers.

Read more about oak galls in the #secretvalley, before and after hatching.

5 to remember
resistente – tough/resilient
antes y después de – before and after
día a día – day-by-day
misterioso/a – mysterious
un secreto – a secret

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Oak galls survive the winter in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1U3

Leaves and sun

An April day, spring sunshine and the green of new leaves: it is like no other green. I struggle to name it, except that it is made of fresh growth. Leaves appear green because of the chlorophyll they contain, chlorophyll is the part of the leaf that uses carbon dioxide, sunlight and water to produce sugar.

A leaf with plenty of chlorophyll masks other pigment colors. Chlorophyll, an essential component of photosynthesis, is a green pigment found in the chloroplasts of plants. Leaves often show as a vivid green when they are close to other leaves, because the light people see bounces off the green leaves before it reaches the eyes. Chlorophyll utilizes mostly red and blue light energy, while the green energy passes through or bounces off the leaves and reaches a person’s eyes so leaves appear green.

As autumn ends, plants and trees produce less chlorophyll because light regulates the production of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has a constant decomposition rate so the green colour of leaves begins to fade when chlorophyll starts to decompose.

5 to remember
el dióxido de carbono – the carbon dioxide
la clorofila – the chlorophyll
un pigmento – a pigment
para utilizer – to utilize
la descomposición – the decomposition

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
What makes leaves, green? #trees in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1TS

Springtime: old and new

This is the time of year when new young energy pushes aside the tired, the old and fading. New growth next to dying or dead. Fresh bright green next to browns, blacks and greys. Spring is relentless.

5 to remember
este es – this is
la energía – the energy
desvanecimiento/a – fading
muriendo/a – dying
muerto/a – dead

Spring patchwork

At no time during the year does the landscape change more than during the spring. A day of sun or rain alters things dramatically. Overnight, buds of tightly-woven almond blossom burst open, winter-sown wheat takes on a deeper more luscious tone of green, and the fields of peas seem to grown centimetres within hours. And so the agricultural patchwork of parcelas changes from pale greens and browns, divided by the haphazard lines of silver-grey stones and paler dried earth, to deeper tones, helped often by a night-time sprinkle of drizzle.

5 to remember
en ningún momento – at no time
el paisaje – the landscape
dramáticamente – dramatically
durante la noche – overnight
los campos de guisantes – the fields of peas

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Spring draws its patchwork of colours & textures in #Spain #countryside via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Pw

Bird song: Stonechat

About the size of a robin, the stonechat is a pretty red-breasted bird which is resident here all year round. They like heath and moorland which explains why they are happy in the rough vegetation of our valley. There are various races, the one here is Saxicola Rubicola. Its call is easy to recognize, a sort of ‘chak’ which can sound a bit like two pebbles being clattered together. Hence its name, I guess. There is also a more territorial-sounding ‘krrrr’.

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

[Photo: Jose B Ruiz/BBC]

Listen to the Stonechat’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
de pecho rojo – red-breasted
son felices – they are happy
por lo tanto – hence/therefore
fácil de reconocer – easy to recognize
dos guijarros – two pebbles

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Robin-like Stonechat in #Spain #birds via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Wb

Our olive grove in February

In terms of the lifespan of an olive tree, ours are not even toddlers. Some olive trees live to be 1500 years old, the average lifespan is 500 years [or less depending on the Spanish Government’s periodic grants to farmers for planting new varieties, which sees the old trees ripped up]. Humans have been eating olives since the Bronze Age. Many olive trees around the Mediterranean have been dated to 2000 years of age, an olive tree in Croatia is still fruiting at the age of 1600 years. Our olive grove was a field when we bought the property, it had been used as paddocks for livestock rearing. Previously wheat was grown there hence the ancient ‘threshing patch’. We removed the fencing and planted olive trees which have taken five years to grow to the size you see below. The threshing patch remains untouched.

Read these two Olive Oil Times articles: the first explains the life cycle of the olive tree, the second about a Spaniard rescuing millenary olive trees.

Here are two previous articles published on ‘Notes on a Spanish Valley’ about our threshing patch: the first explains its origins, the second is a photographic tour throughout the year.

5 to remember
la vida útil – the lifespan
un niño – a toddler
periódico – periodic
una beca – a grant
rasgar – to rip up

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Our olive grove in February: #farming in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1TK