Early one morning, the valley was veiled in a cap of mist so dense we couldn’t see the hilltops. It was like a giant had breathed out, they way you can see your breath on a frosty winter’s day. Except this was in April and warm, below the mist the green of the leaves was clearly visible. Two hours later came the first touch of breeze and the mist started to drift away, revealing one-by-one the outlines of individual trees. The sky became its usual springtime blue again.
5 to remember
un gigante – a giant
un suspiro – a sigh
velado/a – veiled
una tapa – a cap
tan densa – so dense
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A giant’s sigh: morning mist in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1QG
Some days we can have had all kinds of weather in one day. In the morning, strong February sunshine coupled with a breeze to dry the earth after last night’s shower. We don’t complain at the overnight rain, it is welcome rain for the farmers. Driving through the olive grove, half a dozen pied wagtails bounced ahead of me, scattering and re-forming in their group as if waiting for me to reach them before bouncing ahead again up the track. Why don’t they scatter to the side, between the trees, where I will not follow? Then the afternoon. First the odd white cloud, then grey clouds, then dark grey clouds, more wind and a distant rumble of thunder. Dark enough to make us turn on the lights inside the house. Then the hail arrived, only the second time I have seen hail here. Hailstones as big as sultanas, bouncing off the terrace, sinking into the water of the pool, nestling into the folds of potted aloe vera.
After ten minutes of hail, the valley looks as if it has been dusted with snow and the sky is as dark as night. There is a breather between the first and second hailstorms, then the clouds pass and the sun re-appears. For a while, the valley has a split personality: dark at one end, sunny at the other. Half an hour later it is as if it never happened, 90% of the hail has melted. Just the odd white sultana remains, nestled in a cold corner; evidence of the multiple personalities of today’s weather. That evening, the sunset was the colour of Seville oranges.
5 to remember
todo tipo de – all kinds of
excepto – except
media docena – half a dozen
un estruendo – a rumble
el granizo – the hailstones
We were woken at 2am by the thunder. We had been warned, AEMET had been predicting rain. Like all rain in a Spanish summer, it comes in fits and starts. Grey skies then blue, white fluffy clouds, so pretty you can’t imagine it raining again. Then an hour later, more rain, more thunder. It pounds down, bouncing off the dry earth, scattering dirty droplets of water on walls and paths, forcing geraniums to weep their petals like red confetti. We stand on the terrace and look left… … and right… Is that the end of it, or will another downpour creep up on us? Plant saucers overflow… … a sprinkling of raindrops sit as evidence of the storm, though now the skies are clear… … on honeysuckle… … on palm leaf… … as the sun re-emerges, the wet terrace steams, the puddles shrink… … and the lizards re-appear from their hiding places behind plant pots, in the rose bush, deep in the tangle of honeysuckle and ivy, from inside the metal pergola supports… 5 to remember
a los tropezones – in fits and starts
no se puede imaginar – you can’t imagine
[algo] apporea – [something] pounds down
unas gotitas – some droplets
el confeti – the confetti
Sky with clouds. August 17, 2013
The pleasing shapes made by the forces of nature – wind and water, rain, sunshine, light – give variety throughout the season. These branches bear the shape forced on them by the battering of winter, and could not be made by hand. 5 to remember
la forma – the shape
las fuerzas – the forces
la luz – light
la variedad – the variety
durante – throughout [a period of time]
Living here we see nature in its beauty, and its strength, every day. The storm in March 2013 was not as bad as the one which destroyed the earlier version of the bridge, the new bridge thankfully is stronger. But it transformed the river overnight from a quiet stream, winding its way through the bottom of the valley, to a dark brown muddy monster cutting corners, tearing up riverbanks and pulling riverside plants and reeds up by the roots.
The most dramatic transformations are of the little and big waterfalls. The force of water over the big waterfall [below] takes weeks to return to normal. The smaller waterfall is nothing more than a rocky rapid when the river is at its normal strength, but after a storm, it changes character [below]. The ford was flooded again, the water level rose above the bridge and sand washed up the track [below]. Further along the valley is a tiny footbridge over what is no more than a spring, trickling down into the river. Except after this storm, it too enlarges and becomes wild. So gradually, year on year, the course of the river gradually alters. Tiny bends are straightened, low banks collapse. From our house, higher up in the valley, we can see the tree-lined route of the river, lined by graceful poplar trees, and are thankful we do not live beside it during its winter tempests. 5 to remember
la version – the version
un monstruo – a monster
dramático/a – dramatic
la transformación – the transformation
la tempestad – the tempest
One thing we were not prepared for here were the winter anomalies: the rain, the frost. In February 2012 we were caught out by a -18°C frost, the lowest temperature recorded in Andalucía for over 40 years. It killed plants on the terrace…
…damaged the hot water placas [which were frost-proofed and insured to -10°C, basically because no-one thought the temperature here would sink lower] on the kitchen roof…
…and killed a large number of tender plants and trees from here to the coast near Marbella.
The placas were easily replaced, costing €3000, with the newer updated version [below] frost-proofed to withstand -18°C.
The plants were harder to replace, our climbers had been hardest hit: particularly the bougainvilleas which had done so well around the pergola. We managed to save one which grows up the south-facing terrace wall, protected from the worst of the winds, we chopped it down to the earth and it rewarded us with new growth. But the bougainvilleas on the terrace were beyond rescue. We replaced them with jasmine [below, in 2013] , which is surprisingly tolerant of the cold, and has the added benefit of scent. 5 to remember
una anomalía – an anomaly
la buganvilla – the bougainvillea
el provecho – the benefit
el rescate – the rescue
el jazmin – the jasmine