A year ago today, I rode silently into the blogosphere on the back of a full moon;
the early days of what I had named in a piece of writing about it 3 years ago, The Time of Jacarandá. For me, this name perfectly describes what I consider the very best 2 to 3 weeks of the entire Lisbon year.
I had been privileged to live it for 9 of what is now 11 years here. To learn how to watch for it, anticipate it with growing excitement, then plunge fully into it and everything that came with it.
The jacarandá trees explode in late May, they are all over the city and not only do they give us - in the air above and carpeting the pavements and grass - a carnival of lilac, but they seem to announce to all the other spring & summer flowers their cue to join them. Hibisco of red, pink and yellow, bougainvillea of purple, red, orange and white, agapanthus of purple-blue or white, lantana of 6 different shades, white and pink oliander, morning glory and on and on and on. All for free, in public places, like parks, streets, gardens.
I grew used to this pure joy. the weather is always the best now, warm to hot, sometimes too hot at 40ºC+. Warm nights, with open-air events, like the month-long book fair in one of the city's main parks, free concerts by that Torre de Belem, pictures of which I've shown you so many times.
And the two public holidays of this time, Portugal's National day on 10th June and Lisbon's very own saint's day, Santo António, which starts on the evening of 12 June. The old, popular districts like Alfama & Madragoa, the streets bedecked in coloured garlands, throng with people to eat the grilled sardines and salad sold from open-air restaurants, either permanent establishments or temporary licensed, or maybe not. Apart from the "perfume" from that, the air is full of music, warmth. It is a wonderful party night, that is repeated for most of the following week.
It all comes together like some giant natural & man-made celebration of the best of Springtime. It just exhilarates you, fills you with a joy to be alive through it, like I've never known anywhere. 20, 50, 100 times better than Christmas ever can.
So now, you know why I searched and came up with this descriptor for it all: The Time of Jacarandá.
Putting these photos together last night, of the T of J's gone by, I couldn't help become really wistful. I arrived in this place a year ago and there is no such time here.
I miss it with a real, human pain.
Maybe - no, in FACT, I started this blog as a way to try to offset all that I had lost in arriving here, where there is hardly a tree, let alone avenues of tall jacarandá. I know just one, which I will show you below. I only know two large purple bougainvilleas......in the whole town. This, however & sadly, is also Portugal, just 20 miles away from what I have described above. "But so near!", I hear you say. I'm sorry, it is too far. this is where I live now.
What a year this has been. I think I will write more on "The Flames of Eden" about all that. Now is to celebrate the serendipity that creating this blog brought.
It feels like I have been everywhere, and everywhere has come to me through it. I could never have dreamed that would happen.
It has brought me a band of brothers and sisters - YOU! - who have sustained me through my own most difficult days and nights, with sincere support, with understanding, with appreciation for what I have tried to give them, and with openness to receive the little I have tried to give them back in turn, in so many times of need.
Cyber? 21st-century, digitalised, virtual relationships?
People, I have been around that block more than once and I know the difference between real, genuine, wanted and valued FRIENDSHIPS and fleeting, superficial, virtuality.
I thank all of you for helping me get this far in my heart locked inside me, to battle against the hardships, cruelties, injustices and loss that what is outside of me and my control constitutes.
Now, take a look at the Time of Jacarandá, taking place right now, somewhere over the horizon in the city of my dreams.
I have saved till last this view of the one old jacarandá tree in this whole town. These photos were taken at 6 pm yesterday afternoon. It is in the little street 15 metres from my front door. I noticed it a year ago, when I wasn't living where I now live; it brought tears to my eyes. In recent months, I have become good pals with the woman whose garden it stands in, Conceição. She has told me that it was planted by her great-great grandfather, 166 years ago. It is past its best and has been too far cut back, to save the blossom falling into the street!! I told her about Time of Jacarandá in Lisbon, and she was enchanted. This year, i will be able to go into that garden and visit at least one jacarandá, before it is too late. If it weren't for this ancient tree, I would have to rely on my memories & pictures........