Kingfishers and moon mysteries

By Martin Kirby

December 23. Cotton wool clouds fill the valleys and we cannot see beyond the oaks to the east of the vineyard. This blanket has staved off the frost and weighed what leaves that linger with drops of water. The promise is clear skies for Christmas Day, with high winds from the south west. Mother's Garden is sheltered by a limestone ridge and the conical mountain that is named La Miloquera after a long extinct bird and once dwelled upon it. You can see it in the picture above. But when the wind comes from the south west it shakes everything, funnelled along the valley and east to Roman Tarragona and the ancient sea. Recent wonders have been the iridescent feathers of a monarch and a great mystery of the moon. First there came the kingfisher, sitting on a curled finger of the fig tree, just six feet from the study window and two feet above the old wash pool where up to twenty goldfish hide in the depths. He or she cast that majestic colour twice in one day, and we wait for a further flash of blue and beauty in the corner of our eyes. Then, late that evening, Maggie called us out into the full moon glow. Look, she said, and I followed her gaze into the heavens. I didn't notice at first, then my jaw dropped. Have you ever, on a clear full-moon night, seen a vast perfect ring of light fill half the sky, a celestial halo for earth’s satellite? This, we discovered, is caused by moonlight being refracted by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, and that folklore has it as a portent of bad weather. Christmas Eve. The temperature is dropping fast, encouraged by gales that have cleared much of the sky and polished the air. The Spanish electricity board has sucked vital funds out of our account and so I have had to nip to town to catch the deputy bank manager’s eye. Xavi is a good man who eased my money worries with tales of his childhood in the Terra Alta, the highlands to the south of us. This morning the children have read to us from the Spanish novels that hold their eyes and minds, and this afternoon we will make mince pies to take as friendship gifts to our neighbours. With no television we will seek to contemplate, to share, to talk, to read and to celebrate family. For all of you too far away we send love and peaceful thoughts for Christmas. Hugs and good wishes to everyone who follows this blog, reads my books, buys our olive oil or has made their way to Mother’s Garden over the years. Ella has just posted a little video of our book and olive oil tour to England. Enjoy. Click here


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