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
The noise of the pounding water is the signal that a waterfall lays ahead. When the river is in spate like this, anything that falls in the water is swept away quickly and battered against the rocks.
5 to remember
el ruido – noise
la piedra – rock
rápido/a – quickly
el torrente – spate
estar crecido – to be in full spate [river]
Yesterday was the first day of sun after the Christmas rains. Blue sky, childlike fluffy white clouds, birds singing, our molino whirring like a train [great, it’s filling up our batteries]. We ventured out in our wellies to explore the extent of the wetness. Our first destination, as always after rain, is the bridge at the bottom of the valley.
The water was flowing fast beneath the bridge, and there was a thin layer of sand underfoot suggesting that the river had at some point flooded over the top. The water was sludgy, full of leaf debris, muddy brown. Further up the valley, the Thyme Track was a little sticky underfoot. Sticky for the wild boar as well as us: lots of hoof prints to follow! The holm oaks look a little worse for wear, losing more of their leaves than normal at this time of year [they are not deciduous, instead shedding a few leaves all year round]. Some are orange and yellow-toned [below], I think more because of the autumn drought. This rain should help remedy that. That was the morning. Two hours later, the heavens opened again and the wind howled.
5 to remember
ayer – yesterday
ingenuo – childlike
esponjoso/a – fluffy
el tren – the train
el runrún – whir [of machine]