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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Country Life
Monday, June 3, 2024 @ 4:21 PM

The arrival of June means summer is here, which brings with it hot days and steamy nights, lots of visitors to dodge (or greet, depending on one’s age and inclination) and above all, lots of noise.  

There are fiestas and concerts plus, if you live anywhere south of Madrid, the Moors and Christians thrashes – which in our town’s case means three days of very noisy cap-guns, stunning outfits, parades and music from the marching bands.

I live in the campo, which has its own challenges. The visitors tend to have six legs, come out in swarms, and bite. A dab of repellent behind each ear usually keeps them away – or failing that, a green incense coil does the trick. The noise is provided by the hordes of brightly-coloured Argentinian parrots ('cotorras') who come and perch outside my window, the barking of the dogs who weren’t invited to the fiesta, and me shouting at the wild boar which have recently multiplied in my neck of the desert.

The pigs will come out at night and dig for grubs and the tender roots which are an unappreciated detail of my flower beds and modest fruit orchard. They will also pull down rocks from the stone terraces which are a fixture of southern Spain. They have noses like bulldozers. Sad to relate, I have found that putting the rocks back where they were doesn’t seem to work as it should. There must be a lot more to building a good terraza than meets the eye.

Oddly, the most destructive brute of all is a charming looking kind of wild goat called an ibex (or maybe it’s an arruí, a Barbary sheep, say some of the local naturalists doubtfully). It looks like a deer and it can stand on a thimble. Or, if there isn’t one to hand, then the top of a fruit tree will do. This cabra montes doesn’t just eat the fruit, or the geraniums when dallying in my garden; it breaks off the branches, or throws down heavy planter-boxes, while one of them even bit off an entire potted shrub the other day and then it pooped in the suddenly empty and unappealing flowerpot: a little souvenir of its visit, bloody thing!

There are about twenty of them local to me, and I’m told that they have moved, like the wild pigs, down from the hills and into the municipality. For most of my life, I had never seen a single one, but now I must rush outside and go ‘Hoo!’ several times a night.

Maybe I should get a dog to frighten them off, but the last one died of leishmaniasis, which comes from the no-see-ums – the tiny biting flies.

I was just talking on the phone with my son, who is in Missouri. There, they have a lake full of a kind of aggressive fish called an alligator gar which he tells me makes a barracuda look like a beginner. One simply can’t swim there and these things apparently reproduce at an amazing rate. They are from foreign-parts, he says, and thus an invasive species. A bit like the ibex and the cotorras, or maybe (to stretch a point), your humble correspondent.    


Like 3


PablodeRonda said:
Monday, June 3, 2024 @ 10:17 PM

Nice piece, Lenox!

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