The Art of Arson

Fire is undoubtedly fascinating to us at some stage of our lives, a primeval attraction perhaps. Luckily, the curiosity usually wanes with age and once we come to understand the dangers of the flames. However, some people seem to have a lifelong attraction to fires and an almost irresistible impulse to set them. This behavior is called pyromania; many controversies, myths and misconceptions surround it, and psychiatrists do not always agree about whether it truly is a disease.

Pyromania is rife here in Mallorca this year, or so it would appear. More than 100 incendios (forest fires) had been reported by the end of August. This year’s long period without rain must have rendered Mallorca’s wooded areas particularly prone to fires, but there also seems to be a larger than usual proportion of intentionally laid fires. Arson and pyromania are attributed to the majority of recent forest fires. In Capdepera, a young female was arrested last week and charged with intentionally causing four small-scale forest fires. In Sóller, a car was set on fire only yesterday.

A young Felanitx artist has made the remnants of recent forest fires in the Puig de Sant Salvador area the subject of a captivating art installation. Her name is Mariona Obrador Ramis. Her installation was shown during the Nitxdelart in Felanitx at the Espai d’Art Miquela Nicolau gallery and will continue to be shown there until the end of September.

Other Nitdelart events were recently held in Campos and in s’Arraco; Palma will hold its Nit de l’Art in two weeks time, on Thursday, September 20th. Whether fire or forest fires will be a subject matter there, we will simply have to wait and see.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 26th, 2012. The time was 12:50:49.

The Art of Arson

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

Forest Fires

We have had a string of forest fires here in Mallorca over the last few weeks, partly due to the long hot June and July and mostly really due to arson and some pyromanic madness. Ten days ago, some 20 hectares of prime forest on the slopes of Sant Salvador mountain near Felanitx were burned by a fire with three distinct origins, all presumably caused by a devious human scheme and quite possibly, arson. Four firefighter aeroplanes and two helicopters battled the flames together with four fire brigades from Felanitx and Manacor for over five hours. In the end, the fires were put out but, over night they flared up again and more firefighting had to be done. That is crooked, unscrupulous and criminal behaviour, if you ask me, simply sick.

Earlier this year, forest fires flared up near Alcúdia, Calvià, Peguera, Bunyola, Llucmajor and Palma. And last weekend, two more fires had to be restrained near Sa Bruguera and Santa Margalida, and three more yesterday, near Randa, Manacor and Sant Llorenç. The majority of all fires this year appear to be caused by human negligence or outright criminal motives and arson. Shame on you scoundrels.

The photos (top and centre) were taken by my friend Peter Koene near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 14th, 2012. The time was 15:08:27 and 13:56:23, respectively. The photo (bottom) was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 23th, 2012. The time was 12:01:16.

Thank you very much, Peter.

Forest Fires

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

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

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