Winter in Murcia literally is a thousand (plus) miles away from that of Northern Europe and real cold climes. It tends to only come and go, with warm sunny days in between. It was cooler when I started writing this ( on Thursday) and had rained the day before that but the previous week had made news headlines for record temperatures! Benny, Rocky and I went walking with friends on Tuesday afternoon, at 25C we were looking for shade as the dogs were finding it a wee bit too hot! Sunday saw us sitting in a beach side cafe with friends, pushing our chairs under the sun shades.
Inconsistent is the best way to describe our winter here as the week before that was one of grey skies and torrential rain. Once again our perch on the hill kept us safe while the coast has been battered for the third time this winter. It is so strange not to see the sun here, three days is the longest I remember. Seven days later normal service resumed , what ever normal service is !
I had assumed that my sleepy huerto would have dozed off completely with our week of no sun and cold rain so it was a great surprise to go up when the rain stopped and find it stirring awake. We have five heads of broccoli ready to pick with quite a few babies following on,fabulous cabbage or spring greens, kale and finally flowers on the habas. I came home to drain off our tiny patio garden and enjoyed the sun on my shoulders as I tidied up the herb tubs. A free gift included? I found coriander sprouting in my lemon tree tub, seeds must have blown in the wind. Amazing as it’s difficult to find fresh coriander in the supermarkets here.
Just over two weeks before the rain and storms Walt and I went high up in the Sierra Espuña on the motor bike. Twisty hairpin bends and stunning views. At one information board there was a guide to finding ice houses from fridge free days in the past. I commented on these to Walt, wondering if it ever got that cold now. Two weeks later the snow gates were closed and we could see the snow covered peaks from our house! I love the change in seasons, I would struggle living somewhere with out defined seasons and although there are some very odd changes to the climate , it is still amazing and reassuring to see snow on the Sierras.
Yesterday we walked four miles along the Rio Segura, a path we sometimes cycle in to the city on. Fourteen year old Ben still manages to keep up and of course Rocky covers about four times the distance that we do! It felt like a gentle spring day along the river, blackbirds singing, a heron contemplating life, almond trees beginning to blossom . Perfect walking weather . There are seasons and some crazy weather but overall we are just a little spoiled!
Meanwhile back at the huerto ! Seasonality is a buzz word at the moment with the movement to lower carbon emissions and eat more healthily. It’s difficult not to here, our local supermarkets only have a tiny corner of fruits and veg from far away and they are way out of this pensioner’s budget! No, it is orange season and of course lemons abound all year round. They are almost the symbol of Murcia and appear with practically every meal or plate produced. I am surprised they are not on the Region’s coat of arms ! Recently we have not even had to buy our oranges and lemons, we keep getting given them from friends or friends of friends with orchards. This has meant lots of marmalade making, lemon curd , orange cake and simply just eating the most amazing oranges. I am also excited because I was given a dozen seed potatoes today – a potato growing experiment is about to begin! I loved growing ‘tatties’ in our school garden but have never tried them here. I’m thinking tubs as the ground dries out so quickly. One huerto neighbour has had success this winter growing his in raised beds. Fingers crossed.
Winter is much kinder on older bones here, Benny loves lying in the sun and much as we miss many aspects of Scotland- family and friends especially- watching the driving wind and rain at Murrayfield on TV yesterday evening as we sat with the front door open makes us realise once again just how very fortunate we are.