Saturday, August 01, 2009
up the mountains
Maylise and I took a trip into the mountains to look at old churches, I think that she quite likes them, and to get some mountain air. We managed to get plenty of both. I am fascinated by the old buildings, the architecture and the work that must have gone into construction would have been enormous, it’s just the religion bit that I don’t get. All that toil, effort and money spent on grand buildings for worship when people were living in squalor and poverty, barely managing to scrape by in their tiny cold and drafty houses. (I suppose not much has changed in some places through the years) I imagine how much better their lives could have been if all that effort had been spent on well being and enjoyment instead. Castles and forts are different in a way, they are more for protection and survival, though with less religion, there would probably have been less to fight about in the first place. Enough!!
The mountains were amazing, I always like mountains, the air and the views and the enormity of the landscape, but I was amazed in a different way this time. I was looking at the ground. They, whoever they are, always go on about the mountain pastures in summer and how diverse and colourful they are. I agree, and I have only seen one.
We walked up a steep valley, above the tree line, snow still lurking in the shaded areas, probably from an avalanche, judging by the amount of debris sticking out of it, along the line of a mountain stream until the going got too steep, then zig zagging up a narrow path through the lush green grass. Well, it looked green from a distance, but up close, there was much much more than green. And so many plants that I recognised from gardens back home. Blue geraniums, bugles, campanulas irises and violets. Yellow wallflowers, pink alpine dianthus, white astrantia........ , plenty of others that I have never seen before as well. So this is where they all come from, well, most of them I expect. Some have probably escaped from gardens and become naturalised over the years, but the rest have evolved on the slopes, covered by snow every winter and bursting into life each spring. Some covered the whole slope, others restricted to bands across the hillside, maybe to do with altitude, or sunshine or the soil beneath the dense vegetation, it didn’t matter, I just enjoyed being there ever so much more than I had expected to, even at the start of the climb.
We got far further than we had initially expected to get, the mountain hut by the car park a mere dot on the landscape below. As far as the sign that said 29km to the next town, I can’t remember the name, but it must have been in Spain and I knew that we weren’t going to go that much further. Just a little way, to the foot of a cascade, to enjoy the cool draught of moist air, brought down by the tumbling water, for a breather, a cool drink and a few minutes to take in the enormity of one small corner of our tiny planet. Wow.
Going down was much quicker. We feasted on wild blueberries and, later on, collected enough wild strawberries to take back to the house to go with dessert. Enough that is, to get that wonderful flavour and add colour to a bowl of creme frais, a little demerara sugar to provide some crunch, it finished off the meal rather well.