The Art of Poetry

Es Comú Muro Mallorca

Allow me, please, to remind you that today, March 21st, we celebrate the World Poetry Day. The marking originates from a decision made by UNESCO in 1999 in Paris to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Much to my regret, the Mallorcan language is one such endangered language.

Poetry is not just verbal or lingual; poetry is manifested in sound and in movement, in disposition and in structure, in shape and in chaos. There is poetry in nature, in life forms, in ritual and in art; there is poetry in maths and in music; poetry can simply be found everywhere and at all times.

There was poetry in yesterday’s eclipse of the sun, unfortunately not visible in Mallorca due to meteorological conditions, and there is poetry in springtime’s birth of nature with all its sounds and wonders.

Allow me to quote a poem by Joan Brossa, Catalan artist, poet and playwright:

Conec la utilitat de la inutilitat. I tinc la riquesa de no voler ser ric.

(I know the usefulness of uselessness. And I have the wealth not to want to be rich.)

The Art of Poetry

The Massive Downpour of 1989

In early September 1989, twenty-three years ago last week, the South-East of the island was surprised by a ferocious Gota Fría, bringing torrential rain and utter devastation with it. Entire stretches of road were swept away, trees were uprooted by the thousands and dragged away, three people were killed when a hotel basement in Portocolom was flooded, hundreds of animals drowned and chaos ensued everywhere. The area around Felanitx and Cas Concos des Cavaller was declared a disaster zone and Reina Sofía (the Spanish Queen) flew in from Madrid to visit the affected area and talk to some of the victims. Rain fell at 06h00 in the morning at a rate of 125 litres per square metre within just 30 minutes. That’s about the same amount of rainfall that one could have expected to fall in one whole year. I had never seen or lived through anything like it in all my life, nor had most Mallorcans.

You may know the mountain of San Salvador, the Felanitx monastery. Believe me if I tell you that twelve rivers originated from that one mountain (many of you would call it a mere hill, at 510 m of altitude) after that rain. One of these rivers passed through Cas Concos, demolished an old country stone bridge and took oak trees of a considerable age with its raging force all the way to the beach of Es Trenc, some 29 kilometres away. Ten days later, no rivers were left, only torrentes, dry riverbeds.

Today’s photo shows the external wall of the Felanitx cemetery. This cemetery filled up, then, like a swimming pool until the Marès built walls could not contain the masses of water any longer nor support the water’s weight. The very walls shown in the picture collapsed in the process and an avalanche of mud and debris swept onto the surrounding fields, including the corpses of four recently buried people. The cemetery of s’Horta was similarly wrecked.

I’m telling you all this because now is the time of the year when the Gota Fría might visit this island. Be alert.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 23rd, 2012. The time was 13:23:37.

The Massive Downpour of 1989

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

Cool in the Pool

You may be surprised when I tell you that we do not possess a swimming pool. We had guests staying with us the other day, for a week or so. Friends of theirs, who were here on holiday, were aghast to hear they stayed with us in a house without a piscina. The truth is that I would quite like to have a cooling-off swim basin but my wife is not in favour of my idea. You may also be shocked to hear that we don’t have air-conditioning in our house, either. I am totally against the environmental insanity and the harmful effect of air-conditioning, health-wise. Luckily my wife agrees with me on that one. Okay, it is hot out there right now, I grant you that. But temperatures will drop within a week or two; so, what’s the big deal? We keep our shutters shut all day long, and there is always a slight breeze and sufficient circulation of air in the house.

As for swimming: there is a large municipal piscina less than a mile down the road from our house with two large pools, a jacuzzi, a steam room and a sauna. And even better, there is the sea less than twenty minutes from here, by car, with two dozen bays and coves and beaches within half an hour’s drive, and some 250 beaches in Mallorca, all told. Would you rather swim in the pool or would you rather float in the Mediterranean Sea? That’s an easy answer, I would have thought.

The photo was taken near s’Alquería Blanca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 22:40:14.

Cool in the Pool

Fifty Grades of Shade

We have recently been sent a heavy humid heat wave from the African land expanse. The Agencia Estatal de Meteorología has seen itself prompted to issue a Yellow Alert warning of high temperatures for today and tomorrow.

You may agree with my findings that the heat is more bearable when under the protective shield of some natural shade. The Mallorcan natives have always considered shade an important ally in combating the unforgiving aggression of the Summer sun. Main roads between major villages used to be lined with tall and handsome Aleppo Pine Trees (Pinus halepensis) affording a canopy of shade for those traversing the island. The same in Palma, where streets such as Carrer de Blanquerna were tree-lined, in this case with Lledoners (Celtis australis), offering the animals some shade on their way to the slaughterhouse at s’Escorxador. When I sit sipping my morning coffee, I do so under the shade of the Felanitx palm trees (Phoenix canariensis) and when I go to the beach I seek comfort under the pine trees. If there are no trees, I do not go to the beach during the hot July and August temperatures. I am not mad enough to get roasted like a suckling pig just for the sake of a swim in the Med.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 7th, 2012. The time was 14:54:20.

Fifty Grades of Shade

An Early Summer Heat Wave

AEMet, Spain’s Meteorological Institute, has given a weather alert concerning an Ola de Calor, a heat wave.  That’s early. The big Summer heat wave normally comes around July 20th, give or take a week. That makes it three weeks early for this year’s early Ola de Calor. In Southern parts of mainland Spain, temperatures are said to be going up to 38° C, even 40° C in some places. Here in Mallorca, temperatures are forecast to reach 30° C today and tomorrow, and may go up to 31° C in some places, and even 33° C by Friday. UV radiation will be higher than normal as well these next few days with a reading of 11 and above.

My advice would be to take it easy. Be wise. Put a straw hat on your head or some other cover whenever you go out. Drink plenty of liquid, preferably non-alcoholic. Put some sun cream lotion on, ideally with a higher than 35 factor. When at home, keep your persianers shut all day long and open the windows. If you must go to the beach, seek out a Cala where you will have plenty of natural tree shade, such as in my photo, taken in s’Arenal Petit, in Portocolom. Don’t sit and get your skin burned; you will suffer from it. If you do get sun burned, apply some juice from a freshly cut Aloe Vera plant, or rub your burned skin with some plain natural yoghurt.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 22nd, 2012. The time was 11:34:41.

An Early Summer Heat Wave

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