I can remember a snowfall as late as May 5 in Toronto. That was 20 years ago, and I made a snowman on the day although it melted the very next day. Back then, no one knew much about global warming or polar vortices, but the snow just kept coming, well within the margins of statistical possibility in a country where it can and often does snow between October and May – 8 frigid months inclusive. It’s a life more suited for penguins although to paraphrase Matthew (and my dad), in Canada many are cold but few are frozen.
In Gijón, the only snow is in the nearby Picos de Europa, still visible on the mountain tops as late as mid May. And yet it’s a bubbly 20 degrees down on the beach or even an occasional 25. Light fills the Asturian sky from 7 in the morning to almost 10 at night. No need to hibernate with a crate of Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Spring has most definitely sprung in sunny Spain and the sidrerías are filling up. I love it. Asturian spring is like a Canadian or Irish summer.
Flowers abound, especially wild daisies and dandylions that make the countryside and coastal walks here into a sea of white and yellow. I transplanted some wild daisies into a pot and they are the happiest, easiest plant I’ve ever had. The store-bought daisies are a little more temperamental, although I have started dead-heading them more and tending to their obvious needs a little better. Happily they have perked up and are starting to smile again. Mis margaritas y sus sonrisas – son fabulosas, es una maravilla. Our roses are in heaven.
We also started an herb garden because we wanted fresh herbs for cooking, but also to help with mi vocabulario, also, ahem, growing it would seem. We now have rosemary (romero), mint (menta), chives (cebollino), basil (albahaca), parsley (perejil), santolina, ruta or rue (ruda), thyme (tomillo), and lavender (lavanda), which we planted in a metre-by-half-metre raised bed in our back yard. The box stores here (Leroy Merlin, Alcampo, and La Cooperativa) are great for the soil, plants, rocks, and accessories, although I recommend you enter with a list and no credit card. It only took a weekend all told, although the blister on my thumb may take another week to heal.
We also have camomilas, petunias, liatris, and sweet alison (aliso), which we grew from seed, and are now poking their beautiful heads out and flowering with delight. The aliso is a beautiful white carpet of joy. It isn’t rocket science – plant, put out in sun, and add water (daily). These ones were all started in a semillero and transplanted as they sprouted to bigger macetas (pots). The aliso is so smiley and so simply conceived from semillero to small maceta to bigger maceta in under two weeks that I can only credit the creator. God is alive and well and living in abundance in the gardens and scenic walks around Gijón.
It is no wonder Spain is an agriculture power, when a born-and-raised city slicker such as myself can be remade so easily as a master gardener. Spain has the largest total acerage of vineyards in the world, and along with Italy and France produces over half of the world’s wine. Along with Italy and Greece, Spain also produces almost all the olive oil in the world. If the economists don’t spoil the fun by turning dedicated farmers into lazy accountants, Spain should be able to take care of itself well past the coming Armageddon.