I’ve mentioned bonfires a couple of times in the last week, and I reckon half the village have been out in their gardens, taking advantage of the sunshine and what, for many, is a long weekend. They haven’t all been busy at the same task, though:

cutting the grass

above the bitter smoke of bonfires
the scent of new-mown grass

I was particularly surprised by that as my lawn looked like this until about midday:
Continue reading “seasons”

more burning issues

pruning fruit trees; Gredos backdrop

La inmaculada, 2012

In the orchard, you
are busy pruning
and tending a bonfire.
In the kitchen, the toaster
fails to pop; I offer up
my own burnt offering
to the Virgin.

In fact – as far as I know – Spain has no tradition of sacrificial fires to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but most of the ‘clouds’ in the photo are really bonfire smoke, which does make me wonder.

There’s a longer poem for la Inmaculada, posted a couple of years ago, which was inspired by the painting by Tiépolo.

smoke screens

At this time of year, all round the valley, everyone is busy pruning trees and vines and making the most of the dry weather for bonfires. The clouds, mist and smoke all blend and it’s impossible to tell which it is hanging in the still air.

low mist over the village

Bonfire after pruning;
at nightfall, the green wood
is still singing

Después de la poda, una hoguera;
cuando cae la noche
la madera verde sigue su canto

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midsummer madness

wildfire smoke, Gredos
The last two posts have mentioned the noche de San Juan, when celebratory bonfires are lit, but I had rather thought that that would be enough of the subject for this year. After all, the hogueras are lit on the evening of June 23rd, and today they should all be over.

Sadly, though, someone seems to have got the dates mixed and started un incendio in the middle of the day today.

The whole afternoon has been accompanied by the screaming sirens of the police and fire brigade, and the thrumming of the helicopters called out to deal with it.
Continue reading “midsummer madness”

midsummer day

Today is midsummer’s day, a fact that always confused me as a child: if June 21st was the first day of summer and the 24th was midsummer, did that mean it was all over on the 27th?

Actually, given British summers, it wasn’t that really all that confusing. Perhaps if I’d known then about the St John’s bonfires, I’d have thought it quite reasonable that you might need to light a fire to keep warm even in late June.

Book dedication: Midsummer Day, 1910

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