A CYCLE is developing. At the heart of this new life a structure takes shape like crystals forming in solution. December is the olive harvesting and pressing month, January the pruning and burning month. Work must be finished before the blossom comes. The seasons are in control. It’s not hard to see why ancient peoples were dependent on the calendar and stars . . .
Most of our olive prunings are carted away to feed a neighbour’s goats. Two schoolboys, Diego and Rafa, do the carting on their bikes, hauling a trailer made from a supermarket trolley and bicycle wheels. Very ingenious. They tell me they have two-hundred-and-fifty-nine goats. Boys are always precise. They make nine or ten trips the kilometre or so to their farm with their bikes and trailer loaded with huge bundles of cuttings. The last load goes in their brother’s pickup.
These January mornings the air smells of woodsmoke as people burn the detritus from their fruit trees. An occasional wagon rumbles along the track, laden with oranges. Once a day, the milk tanker visits the goat farms. This is industry and commerce without core values and hot-desking issues. The only cutting edge around here is the blade of my serucha – my pruning saw.
My work continues. Thick branches are set aside for next year’s firewood. Only the waste from the fruit trees – the brash, as we northerners call it – goes on the bonfire. Brash is a great word in this context. So exact and descriptive.
In this new life I learn things fast. Olive and Lavender are excellent for kindling a bonfire. Olive leaves and branches flare up with a frightening ferocity. Orange and lemon brash burns well once the fire is established. Nispero (a fruit from the Far East, very popular in Andalucia), has broad green leaves which feed the flames, though the wood burns slowly. Pear shoots go on the bonfire once the embers are glowing. Pomegranate needs plenty of heat beneath it. Fig is to be avoided because it emits toxic fumes. I suspect all smoke is toxic, but fig wood has a reputation around here and no one burns it indoors or out.
What will February bring? Shall I consult a business forecasting website to estimate trends and externalities? Or shall I look at the stars?