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Spanish Secrets: Canabal Choral Society

…Wild blackberry bushes snare the unsuspecting gardener. The needle-sharp spines of wild gorse pierce gloves, clothing and flesh like arrows in a dartboard….

As spring arrives in Galicia Craig Briggs braves the”dangers’’ of the garden.

The freezing clutches of winter have finally loosened and spring is in the air. Clear frosty mornings have been replaced by warmer air and thick cloud cover. Rain showers have rejuvenated the forests and meadows. The dull dark shades of winter are slowly being replaced with the vibrant new colours of spring.

Following the pruning of our two sycamore trees, we’ve continued with our garden husbandry. Torn and weary palm fronds have been removed from the palm trees to encourage new leaves. The grape vines have shed their perennial tears as last year’s growth was removed.

Two seasons ago when Jesus educated me in the complexities of vine pruning, it had seemed so simple. From the spaghetti like tangle of last year’s growth I must choose just two shoots, the rest must be culled. The quality and quantity of this year’s wine depends on my ability to choose the best shoots. Once I’ve made my decisions and executed them, the task of re-tensioning the training wires and tying back the vines can begin.

Work in the huerta (allotment) has been slow and difficult. I’ve had to wrestle every square metre of tilled earth away from the tangled roots of unkempt weeds. Only then have I been able to beat the soil out of the stony ground.

Wild blackberry bushes snare the unsuspecting gardener. The needle-sharp spines of wild gorse pierce gloves, clothing and flesh like arrows in a dartboard.

Perched nearby, red-breasted Robins and blue-plumed Tits watch in silence. A break in my labours affords them an easy lunch from the newly turn earth.

The garden is bursting with new life. Dormant bulbs have woken from their winter slumber and fresh green shoots have burst through the earth. Their growth rate is startling. Everyday they get taller, reaching towards the sky.

Seed potatoes resting on trays in the sun to chit, are now bristling with small green shoots. Peas, beans, parsnips and many others are all showing signs of life. They’ll soon be leaving their temporary indoor home for a natural outdoor environment.

The visual advances of spring are easy to see during the day and easy to hear at night. Spring rains have swollen the rivers and streams and in our village, the old clay pits.

The small village of Canabal was once home to the area’s largest brick factory. Its site was chosen for the natural clay deposits surrounding the area. These deposits have long since been exhausted and the factory closed. The only reminders of this once thriving industry are the numerous clay pits surrounding the village and a tall kiln chimney where the bricks were fired.

Nature has reclaimed the pits, flooding them with water which provides an abundance of year-round flora and fauna.

The arrival of spring in Canabal is heralded by a night-time chorus of croaking frogs, searching for a mate and marking their territory.

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Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs


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