All Hallows’ Eve

It’s Halloween of ‘21
and witches are a’riding,
soaring high cross cragged hills
and dipping low through shallow dales.
Cackling laughter on hooley winds
and boney hands clutching tight
to besoms winging through the night.
Children point as they trick or treat
and parents smile and say
‘a falling star’ dearest child.
But youngsters know what they see
flapping capes, pointed hats,
cats and bats, frogs and rats
hitching rides on brooms bewitched
super powers bestowed tonight.
Windows beam with Jack O’Lanterns
keeping watch until the dawn.
Spider webs, slimy goo,
ghostly whispers, spectre shrieks.
In scary graveyards
tombs release the dead.
Zombies, ghouls, vampires
all abroad this night
hocus pocus far and wide!

© Chris Nedahl October 31st 2021

Classroom Costumes

The classroom door opens fast.

Who am I Miss, behind this mask?

Can you guess or must I tell?

Who is the Dracula, Count from Hell?

Who is the Frankenstein, bat or banshee,

skull or hag or bony shell?

Guess, guess, take your choice,

the children shout with one voice.

Teacher shivers, a scary time.

She knows them all, each guise benign.

All but one, who can it be?

Where is the clue, what is the sign?

Finger beckoning she calls the child.

A tiny peak beyond the veil

reveals the truth, quickens the pace –

beneath the mask there is no face!

© November 2007 Chris Nedahl

October 21st 1966

Photo credit: aberfan.walesonline.co.uk

Deathly hands moved
too quickly forward
ticking towards
disaster.
Oh that time might
have reversed.
Oh that time might
never have reached
that fated moment
nine thirteen on
the darkest morning.
Heartbreak
in a second.
Unfulfilled
lives lost,
those left behind
to suffer
living hell.
Children playing,
happy sounds,
grate on bereaved
minds unable
to voice pain
coping only
in agonising
silence,
words snared
in cobweb thoughts.
Untangling
may destroy what
sanity remains.

© Chris Nedahl October 21st 2021

Bitter-Sweet

Strolling through the orchards of Arboleas is the start of a love affair. The fruit trees, heavily laden in their seasons, tempt touch and taste. It is said a person may pick two pieces of fruit in passing. Walk daily and the passion between tree and human might strip the harvest before time.
There is something glorious about the clear, blue backdrop and the lush green leaves. The oranges and lemons peep through the dense branches. They are so big they remind me of Chinese lanterns. By default, thick undergrowth—dotted with yellow and mauve wild flowers—flourishes under the care the farmer lavishes on his orchard.

But 2012 has seen change—the lemon trees have been deprived of water. The farmers can no longer afford to reap their crops for the pittance yielded. These beauties of nature have slowly died and the smell of burning lemon-wood has filled the Almanzora Valley for weeks.

In their place, olive saplings will stand like rookie soldiers, swaying in the breeze. They must become strong and erect before the winter winds buffet the valley. For three years they have to take firm root until they begin to pay their way.

The fruit farmer is in his seventies and his love of the land shines through twinkling eyes when he speaks of his life’s passion. He has worked this soil from boyhood, taking over from his father when he became too frail to leave the house. He is small—like most Spaniards of his generation—but he is wiry. Not for him an expanding girth. His sun-wrinkled skin is a tribute to hours in the open air. His panama, which has seen better days, has not stopped the crows’ feet creasing his weather-beaten cheeks.  

I ask him, in my pidgin Spanish, ‘Fotografia, por favor?’ and to his nod, I point my camera and shoot away at a changing landscape and a changing life.

We understand one another well. When I take my daily walk I look out for him or a member of his family, hoping one or other of them is working their land.  

He is saddened by the loss of his beloved old lemon trees but accepts the need to move with the times. He even has a small van to transport his tools and containers and has put his old donkey out to pasture. More than once he has tipped the vehicle over the edge, front wheels stuck in his orchard, back end still on the road. Unperturbed, he just waits for my husband, or another passer-by, to push him out.

Other plants and shrubs share the surrounding land—wild, natural foliage growing hand in hand with the cultivation that has crept onto the rambla. The banks of the dry river-bed still display reeds three times as tall as a man. Their proud heads reach for the sky, their feet, metres down, searching out the water that once flowed deep in the Rio Almanzora. The farmer’s son says he learnt to become a swimmer in its waters.

Like so many rivers in southern Spain, a winter trickle is all you may see. Where did it go? The farmer shrugs but warns of flash floods—it is still a water bed.

As we speak, beneath the spring sun, his family are helping plant even more young olive trees. Hopefully, in time, these will yield an income and repay the family for their toil. God willing, they will see the first crop and perhaps, many more. He tells me he is a lucky man. His daughter and son, son-in-law and their four children, share his infatuation with the earth. So many of his contemporaries have lost their families to the cities or coastal towns.

Four cents a kilo is little incentive to keep alive the rural life.

©September 2012 Chris Nedahl

Post Script: The flourishing olive groves today, 2021.

Lubrin August 27th 2021

Welcome to my new blog where I will write about the many villages in my surrounding area, and further afield. I begin with today’s visit to Lubrin but in the weeks to come I will be posting some older blogs, many of which go back eleven years and written during my wonderful time as a member of the expat writing group, Writers Abroad, sadly no longer.

We take to the road mid-morning heading for Lubrin.
From Arboleas, my beautiful village, the drive is through pleasant countryside, scattered here and there with farm buildings and small homesteads. Among natural countryside, orchards and groves, I note expanses of untilled land and wonder whether on a future visit trees or crops will have been planted.
Entering the town, situated in the foothills of the Sierra de los Filabres, one is greeted by the customary narrow, quite steep streets, found in villages perched on mountainsides.
While wending through, I spot the Plaza de Constitucion and a cafe-bar. Time for coffee and tostadas, I think. Luckily, a parking spot becomes available a short walk from the square.

Sitting in the shade on a rather hot day, temperature high thirties, I take in the comings and goings of locals, the Lubrinenses, and the holiday makers enjoying the life of this town. The inhabitants of villages and towns in this region are inevitably friendly, passing the time of day with complete strangers. Lubrin is no exception. In fact it comes across as one of the friendliest places I have ever visited. Neighbours of the bar, tradesmen, and fellow drinkers never fail to call ‘hola’ or ‘buenos dias’ accompanied by a wave.

The origins of the Lubrin of today date from 1528. This was when the village was re-populated after the first Alpujarron rebellion which resulted in the banishment of the Moors who refused to abandon their faith. It left Lubrin and many other regions uninhabited. With the intention of populating it again, twenty-eight Christian families of old stock from Lorca to Galicia were brought to the village to live and work. They were able to exploit the abundance of wheat crops and olive orchards.
Today, from a population of 8,000 in its heyday, the village is reduced to around 2,000 inhabitants.

Our Lady of the Rosary (Nuestra Señora del Rosario) is the beautiful Parish Church nestling in the centre of the town. It is a must to visit.

The Castle Clocktower stands high on a hilltop overlooking the town. It marks where Lubrin’s Moorish Castle stood as early as 1309. It was last mentioned in the land registry of 1750. Should you have the stamina, take Calle Zacatin and follow the footpath to the tower from where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the entire town.

Walking through the town today was stepping back to the time of the Moors, their influence for ever carved into the fabric of this popular town. Despite its ancient history, or because of it, the locals have every facility on their doorstep. What a rich environment this town offers to its people, and those who spend but a short time here.

There is so much more to explore and I will be back in the near future to seek out the many other hidden treasures of Lubrin.

https://www.lubrin.es/

Lubrín Almeria (Turismo Lubrin)

Lubrín Almeria (Turismo Lubrin)

The Bond

For all mothers
natural or by chance
those with us
and those no longer
we remember you.
Memories are made of
the hills and troughs
of life that rut
the smoothness
of existence.
Day ends
soothing sleep
brings dawn
hope and
chances new.

Washington D C Epiphany 2021

On Capitol Hill
as the sun began to set
footfall rampaged
on a citadel’s steps.
A narcissist drowning
in a mire of lies
built like castles
in the sand.
On this day of Epiphany
in the darkest hours
his distortion
laid bare.
Honourable men speak
without prejudice –
one country
one destiny.

© January 6th 2021 Chris Nedahl

Melancholy

It’s my norm. 3 a.m. – the witching hour – waiting for water to boil.
It’s been this way since…
Pushing back a tide of thoughts is so tiring. And useless.
I’m engulfed
My head battles to curtail my unrestrained brain activity.
Just like the rampant bubbles trapped in my glass kettle.

Writers Abroad – a new anthology.

Cover image courtesy of Pete Armstrong.

It is with great delight Writers Abroad, an established online international writing group, shares news of a forthcoming publication. Our sixth anthology, Far Flung: Celebrating a Decade at Writers Abroad is now available in digital format on pre-order with a publication date of October 31st.
This anthology is a treasure trove of contributions from around the globe provided by current and past members of this successful community of expat writers.
The seed of an idea to celebrate ten years of friendship, creativity, and achievement has blossomed into a diverse medley of writing. Wide-ranging in more ways than one this collection showcases countless experiences of those who left familiar lands to venture into an exciting unknown. For many, new lands have become home. For others, it is just a pleasant interlude along life’s journey.
During this trying year when travelling for pleasure has been almost impossible, Writers Abroad members, old and new, spanning every continent, have collaborated to produce an anthology offering ‘far flung’ destinations to our readers. Writers Abroad has tried to provide something for everyone within the covers of this exciting anthology.
To all who enjoy the written word it is hoped you will take as much pleasure from this collection as Writers Abroad took in its compilation.
Writers Abroad is proud to have the foreword written by the prestigious author Peter May.
Far Flung will be available in paperback on November 14th at £4.99 and all proceeds will go to World Literacy: http://worldliteracyfoundation.org/. Please buy for your personal enjoyment and also as a gift with a difference this Christmas.
You will have a wonderful read and be helping to enable literacy and giving the pure joy of reading to some of the poorest children in the world.
Pre-order: Amazon
For more information please visit: https://writersabroad.com/

Below, Writers Abroad members present and past – collage courtesy of John Nixon.

Reprieve

First day allowed out together in the car since lockdown.

  IMG_4809The landscape has not changed. Only the season. When disaster struck, winter was weaving to its end. Fifty-six days have passed. Total isolation. Familiar faces seen only on screens.
Today I am driving through lush, green orchards. Winter rains quenched the land’s thirst. The farmers, unable to tend their fields, gave permission for the grasses to grow, the wild flowers to flourish. The view is stunning.
Yellows and mauves intersperse a myriad shades of green, through tawny to gold. Some pinks dare to show a head as the breeze creates a rippling sea.
Further up in the hills, the only sounds are the birds as they call out in the stillness. Milky butterflies, and occasionally a red and black, do what they do best – flutter through the grasses, stopping briefly at the wild broom and clusters of thistles.
The tiny hamlet of Los Dioses nestles below, not a vehicle or person in sight.
This is a new beginning. The earth is healing Perhaps it was meant to. Among the sadness, which is immense, the world is breathing again.IMG_4805

© May 11th 2020 Christine Nedahl