Posted by: puebloman | March 3, 2009

Sentimental Journey

Spring is coming to Andalucia. A springtime walk  through the campo fills  me with an unaccustomed and odd nostalgia for my English childhood. Flowers for example  cover the hills with splashes of red yellow and blue all through the Spanish Spring, attracting butterflies that remind me of when I was little. In fact the range of  butterflies is even wider here than it was in 1950’s England and the familiar ‘cabbage’ whites, tortoiseshells, red admirals, clouded yellows and skippers, mix with the exotic. In the olden days butterflies were so plentiful in England that we killed and pinned them out on display boards, collecting them like stamps. Nowadays a butterfly in the English countryside is an event.

There are so many swifts and finches here in Andalucia that there is a shortage of nesting sites. The whole place is a riot of sparrows, now almost extinct in England.

The Lizards of Andalucia fill me with nostalgia. Lizards are at their very best  in the spring time when the sun is hot enough to liven them up but not so oppessive that they have to hide in the dark during the heat of the day. Seeing these lizards remind me of long indolent summer days in England when as a child, I used to trail along a country ditch with a linen bag, catching half a dozen with my hands as they became a little sluggish in the cool of the evening. I’d put them in a tin bath, already set up with rocks and a pool as a lizard’s paradise. They would promptly escape, breeding in the hedge and producing armies of tiny black offspring.

Here in Andalucia exotic lizards mix with the commonplace – this area being the last stand of the European Chameleon, a protected and endangered species now. It appears, shocking and exotic among the more ordinary species, moving among the herbage with equisite slowness, or suddenly rearing onto its back feet and legging it across the road to avoid a hurtling car.

When we came here I expected to have to take special care of poisonous insects and reptiles, but when I asked my friend Manolo (who runs the co-op in Almachar) about this, he said with a smile ‘ Don’t worry. The only poisonous animals here are human’.

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