I took my camera along on my walk yesterday (having kept in mind the request of reader Gracierios for “more pictures”). Here are a few glimpses of the Algarvean spring as seen in the hills around our apartment:
An entire hillside of Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae). I recently learned from my ID guide that this flower is infertile away from its native South Africa, and reproduces only via the scattering of its bulbs. This is almost unbelievable, given the way this flower has carpeted the entire Algarve from horizon to horizon.
Almond trees in bloom — the single most iconic image of an Algarvean spring. Everywhere you look right now, you see clouds of white where a few weeks ago there were only barren branches. (Check this post from last spring for the wonderful Portuguese myth regarding the origin of these almond trees.)
An almond tree blossom. Bees love these flowers — it’s almost impossible to lean in for a close macro shot without disturbing a foraging bee.
One of the several species of Vinca that populate the Algarve. They tend to grow in shadier places, and I’ve often found them in the shelter of carob trees. Americans may recognize this as a periwinkle.
One thing I love about Portuguese farmers is that when they plow a field, they often plow around existing small trees and even shrubs. This is a small lot; an American farmer would have yanked these obstructions out to make plowing and the subsequent harvest easier and more efficient. But not the Portuguese farmer. I’ve watched this field for four years, and every year the farmer meticulously plows around these four little trees.
It’s difficult to see in this small image, but every fluffy bit of white that you can make out in this photograph is an almond tree. And to a Portugal resident, those swaths of green grass are simply glorious after the sere brown vistas we’ve been subjected to since last July.
I am convinced, after four years of observation, that the Algarve in springtime is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There is nowhere else I’d rather be right now.