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Thursday, March 13, 2008


This post is not about a poet - let alone about gravy. What it is - among other things - is a reflection on almost a month without rain; the miraculous spring green fading, the land returning to its normal shades of brown despite the flowers till bravely flowering. Once upon a time these wild flowers were all there were on this island. Once upon a time, when spring was over the land was monochrome, shades of yellow and brown and ochre throughout, apart from the greens of maize, potatoes, vines, pumpkins lingering on into mid summer: apart from the bursts of leaves from fig trees all the year round. The leaves on fig trees here come and go with abandon, regardless of season. The figs only come once but also with abandon - along with fish and rabbits they used to be the only wild food to be got, except for grass seeds. The grass seeds were turned into the local flour - gofio - mixed with wheat, maize, whatever other grains were or were not available over the year. For the poorest sometimes, ground-up grass seed was all it ever was. Gofio, dried and salted fish, dried figs are still dietary staples, available everywhere. It is hard to avoid the stink of the fish at the markets, in the supermarkets; though it tastes even worse the locals buy lots of it: the taste may be hard to acquire but is also long a-dying.

That was how it is was then; no water, no flowers. But now they are everywhere according to season: poinsettias, hibiscus, geraniums, bougainvillea, roses in some places, morning glory, flowering shrubs of all kinds, depending where there's shelter from the wind. An easing of the island, you could say. It has time, money - water - for such fripperies these days.

But still Granny sighs for the passing of miraculous spring; the wild ones.

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