The Almond tree is in full bloom by now, at least those in sheltered places are and it’s a delight to the eye and the senses, their scent being subtle and sweet. To see these blossoms to me is just wonderful as it is something totally exotic in my book and my imagination is heightened merely by the beauty of this happening.
Great writers and philosophers have been inspired by the blossoms of the Almond tree. Here is a quote by Nikos Kazantzakis, from his “Report to Greco”
“I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister, speak to me of God.’ And the almond tree blossomed.”
And from his ‘Saint Francis’: “When an almond tree became covered with blossoms in the heart of winter, all the trees around it began to jeer. ‘What vanity,’ they screamed, ‘what insolence! Just think, it believes it can bring spring in this way!’ The flowers of the almond tree blushed for shame. ‘Forgive me, my sisters,’ said the tree. ‘I swear I did not want to blossom, but suddenly I felt a warm springtime breeze in my heart.”
The Almond blossom has inspired literary and artistic people through the ages it seems. Van Gogh painted it beautifully and often when he was in Southern France, for him they signified awakening and hope.
Almond blossoms have been used in legends in countries like Portugal, and in the bible there is mention of them too in several place.
The Almond tree was first cultivated in the Mediterranean about 3000BC. It is said native to Syria and Palestine. Almonds were carried on the trade routes by the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans.
According to Greek mythology the Queen of Thrace, Phyllis was turned into an Almond tree by the gods.
I will never forget myself the rapture when watching a movie called ‘Venus’ which made good use of Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture, at some point, during the performance of this opera the pilgrims chorus, which to me is the most beautiful part, the staff of a pilgrim starts to blossom, it was an Almond blossom, it was a stunning moment, never left me since.
According to the book: “Myths and Legends of Flowers, Fruits, Trees and Plants” by Charles M.Skinner, branches of the Almond tree are used to find hidden treasure.
Here is a link to the book, and there you can also read a summary of Wagner’s Tannhauser story and how the Almond branch figures in it.
I was not really aware of the fact that to me also the Almond blossom has great significance, but it has, and to see the blossoms here on Gozo opening up over the last few weeks has delighted me beyond words.