It is that time again, the time to say goodbye and to move on. West Cork is calling, my grandchildren cannot wait to see me again, and the garden is definitely in need of lots of tender care. I’m also dying to meet up with my family, friends and to reconnect with the art and social scene in Skibbereen. I’m restless and cannot concentrate on writing my blog, I’ve had little time for it also because for the past week I have been sorting and packing our stuff together, 20kg each. Winter clothing is heavy and large, books are heavy too. As I’m minimizing everything I own, I do not want to take extra stuff home, and even if I wanted to – there is no space in the suitcase. It is the weight that matters most in our case, and I bought one of the digital gadgets to weigh a suitcase but I cannot use it, simply because I cannot lift the case to hang it on to the scales! Hopefully we are going to be all right. Everything is sorted, organized and packed. Four days left, time for relaxing and for a last chance to soak up sunshine, because we are going to the land of rain and gray skies. Goodbyes have been said at my lace-class, book-club, library and friends here. Our last few walks have been beautiful. I know that I shall miss all this glorious sunshine, and I am grateful that we had the opportunity to spend some months here enjoying this lovely island.
Yesterday I decided it was time to explore one of the cliff villages of Gozo. Ta-Sannat, and Il-Munxar were on the program, then to walk back from there to Ir-Rabat. It was a beautiful sunny and warm morning. Not sure what to expect as I had not read up on these villages, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of wild flowers that were in bloom, it really did fill out my inventory and photos of wild spring flowering plants that I have encountered so far here on Gozo. I was rather overwhelmed at the diversity, never having seen such a variety yet around the other villages, but that could be because the further in spring we get, the more flowers will be opened. The bees were buzzing, probably because the sun was rather hot, birds were singing, including the canary birds that many people here own and give fresh air whenever they can. Ta-Sannat also proved to be the first village where I heard a cock crow and saw horses and cattle outside. I got a lovely feel of the place, it is situated high enough for one to see the surrounding villages, like Ix-Xewkija, and Il-Munxar, I could also see the sea at L-Imġarr (Mgarr) from where I stood, and part of Victoria. A wide horizon is visible, and virtually the whole island of Gozo can be seen. The village itself was quiet, I was chatting with a lady in a small shop, apart from that and from the usual vegetable van which I had encountered on most of my village trips, all was still.
I know that there are quite a few things that I missed seeing around Ta-Sannat; the cliffs, the dolmen, the temple, and the ancient car ruts, but these were all outside the village and I did not like to go and see them on my own. I have a plan though, next time we spend the winter in Gozo I will link up with some friends to do things I do not like to do on my own, these activities will be on that list, I will organise that.
After taking many photos of the wild plants and flowers I started to walk toward the village of Il-Munxar. This is a very pleasant walk, it takes one along a whole stretch of farm land, land at this moment full of vegetables and here and there a farmer tending to his plants, heaps of manure were also to be seen lying ready to be spread out on places that were bare. I had a chat with one farmer who was obviously enjoying being on the land on such a sunny morning. Il-Munxar is another small village lying between Ta-Sannat and Ix-Xlendi, there is a walk that takes one from the Ferry Port of L-Imġarr (Mgarr) along these coastal villages toward Ix-Xlendi, the walk must be so beautiful as all along there are to be seen the highest cliff of Gozo. In Il-Munxar where I walked some bit out of the village, I saw meadows so full of flowers, like a painting with full blocks of bright yellow, so cheerful I just sat and watched it all and tried to take it in so I could take it away in my heart and mind, such a beauty!
Eventually I kept walking toward Ir-Rabat (Victoria) and reached there well in time to share lunch with Ian who had been at home meanwhile and working on writing his children’s book. We both excitedly shared our mornings adventures and decided once again how much of soulmates we really are and how thankful we can be for all that we are given day by day.
A very peaceful afternoon, the sun blazing down and smiling over mother nature and humankind, the birds singing, but otherwise stillness over the land. This was my walk yesterday. I decided that I would go see the meadows that surround the town of Victoria and see close up what is growing and flowering there. The views that greeted me were glorious to say the least, the colours a balm to the eyes, and not alone the dark and different shades of the green grass, but the way this brought out the bright yellow of the various flowers. My eyes had a feast. The warmth of the sun relaxed me and brought more than one smile to my face, oh the good that this does to the mind and the body! A few lizards were of the same thought as they were basking on the warm stones, but scuttled away before I came close. It was lovely to see bees buzzing around, and little snails out in full strength. The sun had encouraged nature to become alive again!
The air was pure, even so close to a major town. I could get the scent of the greenery, with a subtle whiff of flower perfume carried on the light breeze. I stood and enjoyed this for a long time. Spring is always nice, and meadows have always been my favourite, I used to watch a painting while still at school, it were a few children playing in a meadow filled with flowers. It gives a certain feeling of total peace. That peace is still with me and is heightened when I find myself among wild flowers and meadows. Our mum used to take us to a meadow when we were very small, I remember it though was only a toddler, she would sit with us among the flowers and we were allowed to pick some. Glorious days of the past, but yet with us always, renewed in the present day every springtime again and again.
Nature has so much to gift us, feelings of bliss and renewed strength at the end of winter.
A Maltese bee getting nectar from the Cape Sorrel.
Mediterranean thistle – jewk abjad – Galactites tomentosa
Medicago Italica – Hairy medick – Nefel — or Coastal medick ?
Some of the wild flowers found in the meadow and along the road side too.
Sonchus Asper – Prickly sow thistle – Tfief car
Glebionis Coronaria – Crown daisy – Lellux
Below are some of the wild herbs I found yesterday, there is the Goose grass which in Ireland grows plentiful and which I use in soups, there is the Fumitory which is supposed to be a ‘liver’ herb, the Fennel of which there grows a lot around here, Borage which can be used in all sorts of ways, and the Nettle which is a real health giving herb and I use a lot of it in soups etc. It is nice to see all the wild herbs growing very healthy.
Fumariaceae bastardii – Tall ramping fumitory
Today’s finds in a field on the Beara peninsula was the much sought after Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), with it’s small but very attractive scarlet flowers, easily found among the now lush green grass. The day was beautifully sunny but with a strong wind from the Atlantic. Among the other plants I found was the Chickweed (Stellaria media), one of the Stitchworts (Stellaria) with it’s delicate small white flower, and a type of Speedwell, I think it’s Wall Speedwell (Veronica arvensis). All of these wild flowers and well worth looking out for at this time of the year.
There was a lot of Plantain out too and in flower, also saw Buttercups, Lesser Celandine, March Violets, Daisies, Dandelions and many others. I love to see a fully growing and flowering meadow but you don’t see that so often anymore as the grass is cut for silage around here, the last time I saw a beautiful meadow was on the island of Naxos, the meadows there are amazing and beautifully scented.
Above: the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Below: The Stitchwort and its leaves.
Above: One of the Speedwells.
Below: The Chickweed.