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Archive for the ‘Maureen’s World’ Category

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by Mike Booth

Ever Been Poleaxed by Delight?

For many summers we’ve been driving up to the forest above a neighboring village to gather pine cones for starting fires. They’re ideal for the job, dry and resinous. We need them as the firewood we use—olive, almond and live oak—is hard to light and in wintertime all of our heating and most of our cooking is done on wood fires. Sometimes we take along a picnic. One time we were up there in a sunny clearing enjoying a potato omelette and some red wine while our two little terriers ran around chasing lizards and butterflies. When we finished lunch and rolled over on our backs on the blanket, staring aimlessly skyward, we discovered a pair of golden eagles circling quite a bit lower than usual. They were thinking about lunch, too.

Prohibition

A couple of years ago it occurred to the forestry authority to prohibit collecting anything in the natural park forests. But we still need pine cones, so I came up with a business plan. I would drive up there before dawn on a Sunday morning, while Smokey Bear was still in bed, and load the back of the car with big 100-liter black plastic garbage bags full of pine cones.

It’s a half-hour drive up there from our house and when I left last Sunday at 7:00 a.m. it was 19º down there and a bracing 13º up on the mountain. I turned off on a forestry trail, followed it for a kilometer and parked at the edge of the road. There were enough plump pine cones within a 30-meter radius to fill the four bags that would fit in the back of the car. After scurrying around filling two of them I sat down on a carpet of pine needles for a break. Then it struck me: the silence, the solitude, the pine-scented air… I should come up here more often.

Churros and Glee

Add to that the larcenous glee of stealing the pine cones and you have most of the makings of a perfect Sunday morning. All that was lacking was a double coffee and a plate of the fried batter rings the Spanish call “churros,” and I would see to that at the bar on the way down.

I was headed due south on the dirt trail when I burst out of the woods and found myself on the rim of a great bowl, looking down into a vast valley full of valleys crosslit from the east by the morning sun. Then, as I lifted my gaze I was confronted by one of our old friends, the eagles, soaring low in the distance beneath seven layers of mountain ridges receding into the haze of the upper reaches of Sierra Nevada.

Self Help

I was almost down to the level of the Río Quentar at the bottom of the valley, only half listening to a Spanish self-help guru on Sunday-morning radio discussing the healing effects of nature when a “cabra montesa” (Spanish ibex) appeared in front of me, like a traffic warden, securing the road for her half-grown kid from last spring’s brood, who trotted out of the bushes behind her. Maybe I’ll go back again next Sunday.
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Nikki Braunton, on holiday in Órgiva at the foot of the Sierra Alpujarra (the seaward slope of our Sierra Nevada) with her husband, John Chase and their two girls, came for a visit the other morning. We had only known Nikki through Facebook, so it was lovely when they showed up en persona. I made a chocolate cherry cake–which was still warm from the oven, but they didn’t seem to mind–and we had coffee and tea on Mike’s new table out under the grapevines.

Nikki and John wanted to see my studio so we spent some time down there. John and Mike are both photographers, so they got on like a house afire. The two girls, ages 8 and 12. seemed interested in everything–studio, prints, cats, Cuca–and withstood the boring conversations of older people admirably.

Both John and Nikki work at the Museum of London, he as a photographer, she in the photo archives. “I only do three days a week,” Nikki says, “so it leaves me time for printmaking.” She works at the Greenwich Printmakers open studio. Nikki and John have fallen for Órgiva and have spend their last few summer holidays there.  So, we hope to see them back here next year. Happy printmaking, Nikki.

 

 

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You’ve seen Pinos Genil in the old days in the previous post. Here’s what Pinos and its people look like today, summer and winter.

Here are a few links to Somos Pineros posts on contemporary Pinos:

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It was such a beautiful morning yesterday that Mike took his camera and macro lens out in the garden. The red flowers and baby fruit are from our pomegranate tree. Spanish for “pomegranate” is “granada,” by the way. A neighbor gave us a cutting of the blue morning glories on the right many years ago. They came with a warning: “Be careful, they can take over your garden.” They did. The wispy little white flowers are honeysuckle. They form banks in the garden and perfume the atmosphere out there all summer. The yellow star is a zucchini flower. We put zucchini in everything. The two yellow flowers are some sort of squash, which appeared on top of the compost heap. Our lemon tree is called a “limonero lunar” in Spanish. It flowers every month so during most of the year we have both flowers and fruit.  Here’s the pictures.

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P.S. This one’s for cousin Carole.

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Brenda Eubank-Ahrens returns to my studio for the fifth (or is it the sixth?) consecutive year with a new group of students from her art class (two of whom were here last year) at the IB School of Bremen, Germany. We both look forward to these visits. It gives so much satisfaction to see young artists blossom in a new setting with new techniques. And the results can be surprising. (You will be able to see the display of their work on Tuesday’s post.)

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Words and pictures by Mike Booth

A couple of times a month I take Maureen to Granada to restock the prints she sells in a couple of gift shops who cater to mainly tourists. While she attends her clients I wait for her in Plaza Nueva, and practice my street photography. Plaza Nueva is one of Spain’s–and the world’s–finest people-watching spots. Yesterday was one of those days.

When she finishes her work we usually go for a drink to one of our favorite bars–Los Diamantes–conveniently located in the square. The bar was full to overflowing but after just a couple minutes’ wait we spotted two seats at one of their long, community-style tables and sat down next to a couple of adolescent Asian girls. They turn out to be from the Philippines. We started chatting to them and “a drink” turned into half a dozen. We never drink that much any more but the moment was right for sipping white wine and laughing. Oh, and eating the Diamantes tapas, some of the finest in the land.

The conversation was like the ones you have with strangers on airplanes, wide ranging and sincere. I ask one of the girls what work she did in Philippines. “Shopping centers,” she said. I couldn’t decide if she was a check-out girl or a window decorator. I opted for the upper road: “Oh, you are an office worker involved in finance or publicity…”

“No,” she replied, “I have teams for all of that. We build shopping centers. I just direct the teams. Suddenly my 19-year-old student on a gap year was a 31-year-old professional.

As I already had my camera out I continued to make pictures in the bar. Here are the results:

Click on the images to open a slide show

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May first every year is festive in Granada, but this year it was even moreso. Granadinos, including those of our pueblo, Pinos Genil, celebrated three fiestas on the same Sunday:

  • Mothers’ Day (Día de la Madre)
  • Labor Day (Día Internacional de los Trabajadores)
  • The Day of the Cross (a Spanish rites of spring celebration that they refer to as El Día de la Cruz)

Any one of these commemorations can justify dressing up, going down to the village square, eating and drinking a little too much, singing, dancing, oogling the beautiful young people and generally getting a bit unruly.

What follows is a selection of photographs that Mike shot that day for his Somos Pineros.com (We’re from Pinos!) photo blog.

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