Algarve Spring’s Gentle Unfolding

Unlike Algarveans, we Canadians don’t have a lot of experience of true Spring! We know all about snow and cold one week that changes to warm summer temperatures just a couple of weeks later. We aren’t accustomed to landscapes that lie unfrozen, yet fallow, for several months and then which slowly, ever so slowly, begin to come alive again. For us Canucks, ground is either frozen or is bursting with life. There isn’t a whole in between those two states!

I realized as January unfolded into February that the land wasn’t really changing all that much, although almond trees brightened the countryside and magnificent storks began to take up residence on chimneys, church steeples and the many platforms erected for them. But as the sun got stronger, the nights grew warmer and the days lengthened the land began to soften and to change. Wildflowers started to brighten the roadsides with pinks and yellows. Farmers began to till the land and plant seeds. Field started to sprout recycled 5L water bottles, upturned to make effective little greenhouses for tender vegetable seedlings.

And then one day as I drove slowly down a back road near Silves, windows down to appreciate the lively birdsong and soft breezes I was hit by the sweet, pungent aroma of orange blossoms. How heady is that scent; so indicative that spring has fully arrived, finally. Almond blossoms spent, small trees lining roadways were now sporting fuzzy, soft green fruit that would turn into almonds. I hadn’t really realized before this spring that when the Portuguese talk about ‘dried fruit’ they really are referring to nuts produced on fruit trees.

Next I became aware of tiny little figs beginning to develop, almost before leaves were fully opened. Patches of gorgeous Easter lilies adorned entrances of farmhouses, as did daisies, jasmine, and irises. And finally wild herbs began to bloom: sage that had run wild, thyme, lavender and wild fennel all began to add their fragrance and bright colours to the countryside.

Before I finally left for home near the end of April, I realized that this was the first time in my life that I’d been somewhere to experience a proper Spring. It was delightful to be present to this unfolding of life. You could almost feel the earth begin to uncurl, to rub winter’s sleep from its eyes, take a cautious look around and finally to sigh with renewed vigour before finally sitting up and announcing that a new year was fully underway. I can’t wait to have that experience again!

Spring is a Time for Renewal

Not only does Nature renew, refresh and enliven herself each Spring, but it is a great opportunity for women who want more out of life to do the same.  Join me for two great renewal opportunities this Spring. These women’s retreats are not to be missed.

Choose from A Taste of Life – March 29 – April 13th or Awakening Spirit – April 12 – 27th if you seek renewal, adventure, freedom and luxury.  Don’t miss out on these great opportunities to create the best life possible for yourself.

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Easter Sunday Alleluia Parade

Easter Sunday in Sao Bras de Alportel is a glorious, joyous occasion. The streets are lined with flowers and greenery, all lovingly done by the hands of local volunteers. I can only imagine how many hours it takes to lay down several kilometres of flowers in intricate designs. Men and boys carrying astounding floral arrangements parade through the streets and calling Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. It seems that they cluster in groups and they definitely try to out cheer one another. A form of non-violent competition, it seems.

Bedspreads are hung from windows to pick up good luck as the parade passes by. Thousands come out to view, eat goodies from market stands, buy balloons for the kids and visit with one another. After the parade there is music, more food and a true Portuguese party atmosphere. Definitely an event not to be missed. The parade starts around 11ish, but arrive early cause parking gets tight.

The Sacred Side of Easter

I’m not a religious person and I choose to live a pretty untraditional lifestyle.  But I remain fascinated by religion, faith and the many ways in which people retain long-held traditions in our world.

One thing that I love about the Algarve is that its people seem to excel at maintaining a fairly traditional lifestyle in spite of that fact that they are swamped by tourists year in and year out.  That’s a theme that I am planning to explore in future visits.

But for now, I am reveling in the memories of my experience last spring of Easter in the Algarve.  Today’s post focuses on the night-time procession that happens on Good Friday through the streets of Silves, Algarve.  The faithful walk slowly along with litters carrying images of Christ and the Virgin Mary, beginning at the Cathedral and snaking their way through much of the historic district.  It takes a good 90 minutes to 2 hrs before the procession climbs back up the hill to the Cathedral.  What a delight it was to be present to so many people making their silent way to observe a 2,000 year old event that still holds meaning in their lives.

The Sacred Side of Easter YouTube Video