Diane Churchill

Notes from Mojácar

Diane Churchill

This is a savage land. If it weren’t for the fuente, the miraculous gush of water from the top of the Mojácar mountain, this land would kill.

It must have taken endless work to terrace the stony hills, to plant groves and gardens and irrigate them, to create roads and structures in this sun. Since the Pheonicians, women and men have worked this land, reclaiming it but not taming it. The plains stretch out, the tawny color of a lion’s flank, (to quote Lorca) dotted by the dark grey-green of the olive tree and grids of intense green planted with nourishment.

The sun rules. It is stronger than anything. It creates the elaborate shapes of the cactus, thistle and sagebrush. The oleander and jasmine come from effort – as do the almond, lemon and olive. The pomegranite looks like a little sun with a star at the bottom. . Here farmers have grown the winter vegetables for Europe.

The burro can lie all day in full sun on a short tether. How? The goat family has the shade of a tree and corrugated tin shields. The cicadas sing their song to the sun, loudly, shrill in midday, seemingly the only thing that can stir in that heat. The shy scorpion is here, reminding one of the danger.

The sun feels like brilliant scorching red fire, but it bleaches everything to near white. The colors of the land are blond and pale tan, ivories and greys. Though the sun is strident, it makes the land colors subtle, soft, mysterious.

The only color which rivals the sun in strength is the color of the sea, the Mediterranean. Red-Orange is met with Turquoise-Aquamarine. Between the mountains, wedges of soft blue cool the eye. At the coast, expanses of brilliant blues sooth the spirit.

Seafood pours out of the sea – red prawns from Garrucha, pulpo, camarones and every kind of delicately fleshed fish. Here in Mojácar, one can have olive and sea urchin.

The sun would seem too savage for the songbirds, so tiny, so light in their flight. Their grace at first seems out of place, their bodies too small to metabolize the heat. Where do they drink? Do the succulents hold dew for them in the early morning? They sing as though this is a moderate easy place to live. They sing with pure happiness.

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