The Gota Fría and the Blue Moon

You may well know by now that I am ill-equipped when it comes to taking pictures of the moon. This month of August 2012, we had two Full Moons, the second one being called a Blue Moon. The Trompa de Agua or Gota Fría we had two days ago in Palma and to the west, including Calvià, Andraitx and s’Aracco, may well have occurred as a consequence of the moon constellation. There was sufficient torrential rainfall, combined with thunder, lightning and a hail storm to cause trees to fall, the power supply to be interrupted, flooding in streets and houses, and what have you. The Gota Fría is a meteorological phenomenon which regularly befalls Mallorca at the end of Summer. The sudden drop in temperatures over the last two days would suggest just that, the end of Summer and the end of the stifling hot temperatures.

But worry not. The AEMet (Agencia Estatal de Meteorología) has us know that temperatures will rise again from Monday, September 3rd, to 30° C and beyond. You will still be able to go to the beach and there will be enough sun for a few more weeks to consolidate your tan. Don’t forget to put enough sun cream on, even though the air seems cooler now. It’s not the sun that burns your skin, it’s the UV rays. By the way, the Agency also tells us that the Yellow Alert will still be in action today and tomorrow in the North-East of the island, that’s the coastal area between Capdepera and Cala San Vicente, including Can Picafort, Alcúdia, Pollença and Formentor. Don’t go sailing up there if you want to be prudent.

The photo (top) was taken in s’Arraco, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 30th, 2012. The time was 21:29:31. The photo (bottom) was taken in Andratx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 30th, 2012. The time was 19:25:57.

The Gota Fría and the Blue Moon

Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

The 2012 wine harvest has started. It is always the white grape that gets harvested first, from August 15th onwards, roughly speaking. That is grapes of the Chardonnay, Macabeu, Malvasia and Giró varieties, amongst others. Some vintners swear by the moon and may have started harvesting this year’s grapes on August 17th, the August New Moon. Others consider that a lot of humbug and call it an unproven folk tale with no background in science.

Be that as it may, the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori recently authorized the use of three indigenous Mallorcan grape varieties for wine making under the label Vi de la Terra de Mallorca: Gorgollassa, Giró Ros and Viognier. The island’s wine makers have campaigned for legalization of these grape varieties for quite some time, up to ten years if I am not mistaken. Approval had to first be gained from the European Commission in Brussels, then from the Spanish Government bodies in Madrid, then from Industria, the Mallorcan regulatory body, until finally, six weeks ago, the Island Council Agricultural Department approved the amendment, recognizing and regulating the geographical criteria for wines made in Mallorca.

Wine had been produced from these grape varieties in recent years, but its sale was so far prohibited. Now, any supposed illegality has been lifted. You should try some wine made from Gorgollassa or Giró grapes; they are quite impressive. The Viognier variety I do not know myself; I can not vouch for this one.

The grape shown in today’s photo is probably a Manto Negro. This variety is distinctive, but is hard to grow and it oxidizes easily.

Manto Negro is difficult. It takes to the character of the land very well, but it’s like a wild animal, savage, and you have to educate it.” (Maria Antonía Oliver, Bodegues Ribas).

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 26th, 2012. The time was 19:58:41.

Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

A Tale of Two Moons

I like the Mallorcan moon. To me the presence of the moon, and in particular that of the Full Moon, is one of utter beauty and poise not often seen in Northern Europe.

You may have seen the Full Moon last night. There was nothing special about that; after all we have a Full Moon every 29.5 days. But wait, August 2012 is one of those rare months with two Full Moons. There will be a second Full Moon on August 31st, 2012.

Yesterday’s Full Moon was not what you might call a Blue Moon but the second Full Moon this month will be called that. When people use the expression once in a blue moon they are referring to the rarity of the occurrence of a second moon happening in the same given month.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca. The date: August 2nd, 2012. The time was 23:42:34.

A Tale of Two Moons

Ramadan in Mallorca

Tomorrow, July 20th, will be the first day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, lasting for 29 or 30 days according to the visual sightings of the crescent moon. It is the Muslim month of fasting in which all followers of the religion of Islam refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations, from dawn until sunset. Today, July 19th, is the night of the New Moon, and not just in the Muslim calendar.

Most Muslims in Mallorca hail from Morocco or other North-African countries such as Algeria, Tunisia or Egypt. Quite a large number of Maghreb citizens habitually go back to their native country, wishing to spend the time of fasting with their families. We saw our neighbour Kamal packing his car to the hilt with boxes, suitcases, mattresses and even bicycles for his long sea journey back home to Nador (Ennaḍur) in eastern Morocco where his parents live, of Berber descent. Kamal will not return to Mallorca until the end of August after the feast of Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.

I am quite fascinated how similar traditions are throughout the world. In China, millions of people return home every year to their family of origin’s abode for the annual festivity of New Year. In Japan, it is customary to return home for the Sakura festival of Cherry Blossoms. In the USA, people head home for Thanksgiving Day, and in Europe, it used to be quite common to return home for Christmas. Not all of us may be quite so laden with presents, though, when we return home or am I fooling myself?

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 13th, 2012. The time was 23:02:33.

Ramadan in Mallorca

Sister Moon

I apologize for not offering you a better photo of yesterday’s Super Moon but there you go. The intention was there but my equipment does not seem to be good enough for the moon, the sky in general, flowers or other close-up objects or really anything. Luckily I don’t mind; I hope you don’t either.

Yesterday’s Full Moon was the biggest and brightest moon of the year having passed closer to the Earth than usual. I found Sister Moon to be surprisingly beautiful, very feminine, rather warm and glowing. It’s just a shame that the visual effect is different on the human eye than it is through my camera lens. What can one say?

The Super Moon came within about 357,000 km of Earth, which is about 22,000 km closer than average. The moon’s distance from Earth varies because it follows an elliptical orbit rather than a circular one. I hope you had a good night’s sleep.

The photos were taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 6th, 2012. The time was 23:56:46 and 23:18:20, respectively.

Sister Moon

The Poetry of Clouds

I never cease to be amazed by the utter beauty and the poetic quality of clouds, here in Mallorca. For the last few days and in the run-up to the Full Moon on Sunday, May 6th, we had some spectacular Cumulonimbus clouds. You may have noticed them yourself.

Please allow me to quote an excerpt from a poem by Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), titled I Have the Wisdom of One Condemned…

… I dreamed the earth’s heart is greater
than its map,
more clear than its mirrors
and my gallows.
I was lost in a white cloud that carried me up high
as if I were a hoopoe
and the wind itself my wings.
At dawn, the call of the night guard
woke me from my dream, from my language:
You will live another death,
so revise your last will,
the hour of execution is postponed again …

The photo was taken near Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 13:58:17.

Post script: My friend John spurred me to remind you of the very exerting Cloud Appreciation Society. There you will find everything you always wanted to know about clouds, and more, including a cloud appreciation manifesto, photos, music and poetry. Thank you, John.

The Poetry of Clouds

24 Hours in the Life of an Island

(near Felanitx, at 00:40:23)

Twenty-eight years ago today, I orchestrated an exciting photo event in Los Angeles, California, in collaboration with one Red Saunders. Together, we edited the book that covered that event: 24 Hours in the Life of Los Angeles. All those years ago, we had assembled a team of 145 people, including 103 photographers from all over the world plus 16 local school children, to capture the life in this metropolis in the run-up to the 1984 Olympic Games.

Today, I have the pleasure to invite you to sample a similar adventure, somewhat different but nonetheless exciting, albeit without its results ending up in a glossy coffee-table book. I endeavour the making of a comprehensive portrait of Mallorca, my home for the last 25 years, by taking photographs over a period of 24 hours in the life of this island. This time, there is no team and there are no other photographers involved or invited. I will upload photos every few hours, depending on broadband connection, and today’s post will grow bigger and longer as the day progresses. The first photo was taken this morning at 00h40 on top of Puig de Sant Salvador near Felanitx, and the last one will be captured just before midnight in Plaça d’Espanya in Felanitx. Let’s see how it goes and let’s witness, if I will last the Tour de Force.

(Portocolom, at 01:28:42)

(Porto Cristo, at 02:03:46)

(Son Servera, at 02:52:00)

(near Canyamel, at 03:10:01)

(Cala Rajada, at 03:32:23)

(Cala Rajada, at 03:43:12)

(Felanitx, at 04:39:18)

I made a scheduled return to Felanitx to upload the first photos of this self-set challenge. Quite unscheduled, I fell asleep and had a 45 minutes nap. I was still good on time and schedule, though.

(near Petra, at 07:41:13)

(near Petra, at 08:00:33)

(Santa Margalida, at 09:24:54)

(Muro, at 10:44:09)

(near Muro, at 11:35:52)

At this time, I was still running to schedule, more or less. But it began to dawn on me that the task I had set might be a bigger one than I had calculated. I may have underestimated the challenge and the sheer distance between places, and I may have overestimated my abilities as a one-man-band. I decided that Mallorca was, in fact, a continent.

(near Muro, at 12:11:55)

(Port de Pollença, at 13:59:13)

(Pollença, at 14:18:33)

By now, it was quite evident that I was running late, and well behind schedule. I decided to alter my route plan. Instead of returning south via Crestatx, Sineu and Sant Joan, I decided to go up into the mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana to see if I could catch up on time by eliminating some of the planned stops.

(near Pollença, at 14:58:40)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:23:18)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:25:40)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:32:31)

(near Sa Calobra, at 15:33:02)

(near Fornalutx, at 15:37:35)

(near Fornalutx, at 15:43:27)

It now was clear: there was no way I could complete the whole island portrait, and comprehensive at that, within the self-elected time frame of 24 hours. For a start, there was no way that I could upload any photos during the course of my parcours. There were just too many kilometres to be driven from point to point. Mallorca is too big an island to be ticked off in one single day by one individual. I realized that I would have needed to employ the good services of a driver to allow me to concentrate on the scene selection and the location, instead of me minding the business of getting there in the first place. And it would have been wise to seek the support of an assistant to keep my back free from the logistics of the task. Me, on my own, doing the driving, route planning, rescheduling, time keeping, scene selection, setting up the tripod, shooting, editing, copy writing, Lightroom-ing, WordPress formatting and what have you, was just too much for one elderly man. And I was getting tired, sleepy, red-eyed, exhausted and anxious. I needed a hug, or a helpline, or something.

(near Sóller, at 15:51:15)

(Sóller, at 16:45:14)

(Sóller, at 17:03:36)

(Sóller, at 17:11:26)

In Sóller, I accepted the inevitability of defeat. It simply was impossible to cover all of Mallorca or at least, all 48 locations that I had scheduled, in one day and on my own. I would barely manage half that number and not even half the total distance. By now I had done some 300 kms, and I would surely need to do the same again, or more, with more than two thirds of the time already gone. I would need to be fitter (and younger), less mad, better equipped, better supported and assisted, and more realistic. I should simply have listened to my wife.

(Alfàbia, at 17:46:32)

(Alfàbia, at 17:54:46)

In Alfàbia I decided to go home. I needed to upload some of my photos and take stock. I might go out again after that to cover some of the Mallorcan hinterland, Porreres, Campos, Llucmajor, Sant Joan, Villafranca, Sineu, Llubi, and so on. For now, I certainly would not be able to cover the western parts of the island, Andratx, Estellencs, Banyalbufar, Valldemossa, Deià, Orient, Alaró, Bunyola; I might have to have another go at the region at some later stage. Palma, I was pretty sure that I would skip Palma for now.

(Felanitx, at 23:43:43)

Having aborted the project and not having gone out again once I arrived back home after 20 hours on the road and in the hot sun, I was busy photo editing, photo optimizing and uploading. I now did not need to do that final shot just before midnight that I had scheduled from earlier this morning. But I wanted to do it anyhow to have a pair of bookends, so to speak. As it happens, I met my friend John and he kindly agreed to pose as another mad hatter for mad me. No. This is not me sitting there, just in case you wondered.

Good night, and thank you for joining me on this ride and this very long day indeed. I need some sleep now.

24 Hours in the Life of an Island