Monday, March 29, 2010

A Wet Spring

Like the winter this year, Galicia's spring is wetter than usual. We came a couple of weeks early this time, and spring is getting a late start anyway because of the harsh winter. Usually when we arrive at end of March, the yellow broom and Spanish white broom are in glorious bloom, along with purple heather along roadsides. This year, the broom and heather haven't begun, but the hills are bright with the deep golden blossoms of thorny gorse, and small white daisies are beginning to appear in fields, like tiny stars. Purple canterbury bells are blooming along roadsides. Apple trees and the pink blossoms of peach trees are in abundance. All the vineyards have had the vines cut back, and tiny shoots are appearing at the ends of stumpy branches.

Trees for the most part are still bare and webby, although the willows are developing a fine green mist on their drooping branches, and the dark pines are always green. Some wondrous tree is thick with yellow blossoms. It is reminiscent of honey locust, which, in Sacramento, would be individually planted as a garden accent, but here it is wild in the hill forests and slopes: frondy green leaves, and clouds of yellow. Among all the faint twiggy webs of trees not yet in leaf, and against the bright green landscape, these are splashes of bright yellow under the ever-shifting skies.

At the moment we are sitting in the cafe of the Parador, enjoying cafe con leche and tending to our e-mails. The Parador system is a network in Spain of old castles and monasteries that have been converted into tourist hotels. This particular one was once the castle of Count de Lemos, and was also, in the course of its history, once a monastery. It's a huge stone edifice (building is far too weak a word), going back to the thirteenth century, and it sports two crenallated towers (one of which is a museum with endless stairs up 5 levels) and a cathedral, as well as a restaurant, a cafe, and the rather posh hotel. It dominates the landscape for miles around Monforte, being high on a hill in the center of town, and approached by a road that winds around and around until you reach the top. From any direction, it's beautiful. The full name of the city is Monforte de Lemos.

Time to wrap up until another day.

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