Saturday, April 21, 2007

spring time in Sicily

La primavera Siciliana - it's a great time to be in Sicily in March. Spring is in full swing. Spring comes early to the 'mezzogiorno', the south of Italy. All over the island they have already harvested or are harvesting artichokes, lima beans and broccoli or it it cauliflower. I think it is cauliflower- it's hard to tell because they are not white but are green with purple tips. I saw squash and tomatoes being grown under plastic covers. I guess, because they need access to fresh tomatoes all year round. It has been raining and it was cold. It makes for good sightseeing; for walking around the huge valley of the temples in Agirgento; for climbing up and down ancient Greek ruins in Siracusa and Taormina and for climbing up 'La Rocca" (the rock) in Cefalu. In Cefalu, the rain was pounding down, the wind was whipping around this way and that and the sun was struggling to peek through and we were climbing up the rock behind the town up to where the ancient temple to Diana stands. There was lush growth all around. We still managed to take some photographs in spite of the rain. I looked at my notes that day- the birds are chirping and making nests in almost every tree. The weds are lush among the terraced seating area of the ancient amphitheatre. There are palm trees swaying in the wind, bougainvilleas of every color all over the hillsides, the yellow Euphorbias and of course the ubiquitous 'prickly pears' or cactus. We have the same cactus in California except ours don't fruit like the ones in Italy. The fruits of these prickly pears can be purchased in greengrocers in town. One peels off the skin to eat the very sweet flesh with lots of seeds, I've never tasted them. The local folks are foraging for wild green that appear for the shortest time in Spring. In Agrigento we saw this old contadino offering his 'pickings' for sale on the side of the street. Every where the fields are being prepared and the corn is already a foot tall. The almonds have sprouted green fruit. They flower very early in Spring and like in Provence, the time of Almond blossoms is a magnificent time. Even Van Gogh couldn't resist painting Almond blossom time. Each time I see his painting of almond blossom, it takes me back to my first visit to Provence, 5 years ago. Spring time anywhere is a beautiful time. I remember driving around Ventura County in Southern California one year, the whole place smelled of orange blossoms. It was incredible. The red poppies were so vibrant on the side of the road. I remember one birthday when my brother gave a huge bunch of Narsiccus and they were so fragrant. I won't soon forget this spring in Sicily.

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