Winter is a strange time up here in the mountains. I remember one Christmas, just two years ago, when it was so warm that people were wearing summer clothes and sitting outside the cafés drinking coffee and chatting. The good weather continued on into January and that was the year we saw the Moroccan coastline during sunset several days in a row. This time last year saw a completely different scenario with snow drifts several feet thick and some people having to be rescued from their Cortijos (farmhouses) by helicopter. Locals said they had never seen anything like it before, they were used to a light sprinkling of snow but not this much and for so long. This year has been cold with a little snow and some rain. I don’t know if these aberrations in the usual weather patterns have anything to do with global warming, I suspect they do, but I do wonder if more dramatic landscapes like ours feel the changes in more obvious ways.
With a population of approximately five hundred people, the village is very small and in one respect there’s not a great deal going on here in terms of cultural, or social events but in other ways this is a very lively community and its life is patterned by the seasons and work in the fields. A lot of people own land as well as their houses in the village. Barely anyone here can make a decent living from agriculture, the crops being figs, almonds, vines, and olives there are other places in the world who with large-scale farming dominate the markets. Agriculture here serves more as a useful addition to the annual income and of course to the family diet. Favourite vegetables are peppers of all varieties, broad beans, courgettes, aubergines, avocados, and a variety of fruits. Slim red peppers tied to string and hung up to dry decorate the balconies and patios of many a house here in late summer. Alas it is winter now and today I’ve been sitting at my laptop writing while the clouds over the Mediterranean rose and wrapped themselves (do they have selves?) around the village. I couldn’t even see the church when I looked out of the window and that is saying something. It does not have much in the way of architectural merit but it is very large for such a small community and it dominates the plaza, in fact there isn’t much plaza left over because of the size of the church. Wrapped in cloud today it was obscured from view but it could be heard. When someone dies in the village the church bells ring and they rang this evening. I don’t know who died but I will hear about it tomorrow when I go down to the bakery for bread. Those church bells have been ringing quite often for the dead this winter.