Guerilla Knitting in Mallorca

We have heard of guerrilla gardeners, planting gardens in public spaces under the cover of night. And there are guerrilla knitters in New York, Texas, Mexico, London, Canada, Japan and Singapore, amongst other places, drawing our attention to neglected public spaces or simply, wanting to embellish otherwise dreary city landmarks. They are a clandestine group of woolly warriors who do knit graffiti or Knitivism, decorating lamp posts, trees, street signs and public sculptures with their knitted goods. In Spain, cities such as Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid have seen urban knitting over the last two years.

A few days ago, it was Palma’s turn. Under the cover of darkness, a good dozen female guerrilla knitters planted 200 flowers knitted or crocheted in wool under the olive tree in Plaça Cort. I wanted to see their Knitivism street art and rushed to Palma on Friday but, alas, the law-and-order brigade or whoever else had already removed the surely inoffensive adornments. I find this undertaking quite poetical or lyrical. As it happens, the 14th Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània is in full swing on the island but, the poetic visual suitability of the knitted garden in front of Palma’s Ajuntament seems to have escaped the mandarins in Palma. A shame, really.

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es (top), craftism.wordpress.com (centre) and streetblog.cie-taxibrousse.com (bottom).

Muchas gracias, and

thank you very much.

Guerilla Knitting in Mallorca

The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

According to legend, the pomegranate (Punica granatum) grew in the garden of Eden. The pomegranate is a great and versatile fruit; it has been cultivated and naturalised in the Mediterranean region since ancient times. The fruit is surrounded by a long and colourful history of symbolic meaning and mythical tales. It is referred to in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings. Many cultures use various parts of the tree and the fruit to make medicinal potions or other concoctions. The pomegranate is described in records dating from around 1500 BC as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasites.

The pomegranate tree can live for many years, some say for up to 200 years. I particularly like the pomegranate flower (see photo top).

The pomegranate fruit can be found in some coats of arms of royalty and nobility. It is also used as a pattern in old carpets and rugs from Persia, India, East Turkistan or China (see photo below).

The photo (top) was taken near Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 6th, 2012. The time was 11:47:18. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of metropolitancarpet.com.

Thank you very much.

The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

Oranges and Sunshine

When we first came to Mallorca, it was one of our first ambitions to have a lemon tree in our garden. We pretty soon succeeded in planting our very own specimen.

Only much later we came to realize that the sweet aroma of orange blossoms was an equally important addition to our perfumed garden, if not much more so. You have to smell an orange tree in full bloom to know the fragrant smell; words alone can’t describe it. Orange blossoms are all prim and virginal when the buds are shut tight. But when those petals part and the plump and sticky, frilly and feathery bits of pistil and stamen spill out, orange blossoms look just a bit promiscuous. Pollinating bees everywhere respond to this sensory scent like a moth is attracted to the consuming flame.

Not all that long ago, Mallorcans were busy producing Agua de Azahar or Flor de Taronger, an orange flower water also known as Fleur d’Oranger. I imagine that this stimulant was first initiated by the Maurish settlers on this island, hundreds of years ago. Today, no such tonic water is produced here in Mallorca. One can buy Fleur d’Oranger in a Morrocan corner shop, though, and a cheaper version in one or the other supermarket. Fleur d’Oranger is a welcome ingredient for some baking and patisserie pastries and can also be used in cooking or to flavour drinks. In North Africa you will be offered Fleur d’Oranger to clean your hands as you enter a host’s house.

The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 12:46:59.

Oranges and Sunshine

Water Music

One could argue that Mallorca lived a moment of advancement and prosperity during the period of Moorish jurisdiction. During that time (902-1229), progress was made by refining agricultural methods, by introducing plants hitherto unknown on the island, by developing new forms of management of water resources, by governance of land areas and communities in newly determined juridical districts, by reshaping seafaring routes through accomplished maps and atlases and by starting new trade relations with North Africa and the European continent.

A lot of these achievements had to do with water. Perhaps water was more scarce and precious where the Berbers came from and thus more knowledge and wisdom was coming with them in the way they dealt with water resources and water management here on this island. The settlers only ever founded Alquerias (settlements, villages) where they had found a water source. Once found, they took great care to channel the precious liquid and to store it in ample Aljubs (cisterns). From here, they would conduct the water to where it was needed through canals or watercourses, or other forms of irrigation.

Alfabia is a good place to study the Moorish ways of water management. The estate goes back to an Islamic settlement near the Font d’Alfabia, a water source in the Puig d’Alfabia mountain, from where it was channeled through watercourses to storage reservoirs near the residential quarters, and from there through canals and ducts to the fields and terraces of plantation areas and gardens.

The sound of water is ever-present in Alfabia like an orchestrated composition of water music. Sit back and relax and you can enjoy the peace and solitude of nature, accompanied by the sound of trickling water, interspersed with chirping bird sounds and the resonance of wind in the trees. Bliss.

Admission fees have recently gone up to 6.50 € in Alfabia. Oh well.

The photo was taken near Bunyola, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 11th, 2012. The time was 15:15:31.

Water Music

Flower Power

The Fira de ses Flors in Costitx is a bit of a misnomer. More appropriately, it should rather be called a fair of flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns and other gardening and horticultural paraphernalia. But then, that would not roll so nicely off the tongue, would it? Anyway, the Fira was held yesterday; I went there with my wife and we thoroughly enjoyed our outing. Of all the Firas and Festes in Mallorca, there is only a handful or so that we really enjoy, and this one is one of them. Not everybody may agree with our choice but not everyone is into flowers and plants and trees and green fingers the way we are. Suum cuique.

The Fira de ses Flors is actually a bit of a peculiarity here in Mallorca. This one is not one of the traditional fairs or markets that has been going for hundreds or at least, dozens of years. This fair was devised with a political motivation. It was conceived by none other than Maria Antònia Munar i Riutort, longstanding Batlessa (mayoress) of Costitx from 1983 to 2007 but probably better known as the erstwhile President of nearly every political office Mallorca has to offer. Her ambition was to put her pueblo on the political map. She achieved that daunting task by instigating the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca in Costitx which was inaugurated in May 1991, and by initiating the Fira de ses Flors.

The talented lady was once Mallorca’s most popular and certainly most powerful female before she was seen as the most hated mayoress or indeed, politician amongst her compatriots. She is currently accused of a whole array of political misconduct and will stand in court any time soon, wanting to prove her innocence.

The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 13:43:19.

Flower Power

Les Fleurs du Mel

I am not trying to quote Charles Baudelaire today. The blossoming tree photo has nothing to do with his Fleurs du Mal. Instead, the tree flowers of spring attract bees and insects by the hundreds to collect pollen for the industrious production of honey (Catalan: mel), in the case of the bees, and for instant nourishment in the case of other insects. Luckily, there is the added benefit of pollination which is done in the process to ensure that this tree will give us the plum or apricot or whatever this tree will bear. What a wonderful invention of nature, pleasing all our senses in the act: our eyes, our noses, our ears, our taste buds and our scientific eagerness to learn and to study.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 6th, 2012. The time was 17:39:43.

Les Fleurs du Mel

The Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober

I have reported about the Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober a few times before and the gardens of Sa Bassa Blanca, near the Aucanada Golf course, not far from Port d’Alcúdia.

A visit there makes for such a pleasant outing, especially in the spring or in the autumn. The lovely gardens are just one part of the offerings at the Fundación Jakober, the other part being an impressive display of art, old and new, of paintings, sculpture and landscape installations (see photo above). In the main building, there is also a very special, old coffered Mudéjar ceiling.

The Fundación is open for visits all year around, from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Every Tuesday, there is an Open Day at Sa Bassa Blanca, when admission is free (09h30-12h30 and 14h30-17h30). The Mudéjar ceiling can be visited by appointment on Thursdays (10h00-12h00). For information, telephone 971.549.880.

The photo (top) was taken near Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2008. The time was 16:30:10. It shows the detail of a sculpture by Ben Jakober (La Marseillaise, 1988), designed for the celebration of the French Revolution Bicentenary. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of arteinformado.com.

Muchas gracias.

The Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober