Tuesday, May 29, 2007


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........
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RUTH said...

It is impossible to go back to the past and if we stay in the present we stagnate; all I can wish you is a future filled with happiness and good health.....oh but if I had it in my power to whisk you away...to travel with you those 20 miles and share with you the Jacaranda trees....such is the stuff of dreams. For now remember today,it is the beginning of always and is the start of the future.
With love

Sheila said...

I dream of revisiting Lisbon in the summer. We have made several trips, but they have been in November. This year was the first time we visited in Feb/March.
I agree with the comment you left for me about the quality of light in this beautiful city.
Your description of the smell of grilled sardines, the flowers and all the other things, that to me evoke memories of this beautiful city bring a tear to my eye.
I can't wait to return.
Thanks for these pictures and the description of the jacaranda...

Aurora said...

there are times in our life we have to make a decission..right or wrong, good or bad ? its us who made it, we cant go back..we have to live and make the most of it..I too, enjoy the time of jacaranda ( never knew the name till recently, i always call it acacia tree) the beautiful carpet of purple or yellow flowers they release on the streets....never remember to carry my camera and take a photo when i have a chance...
Thank you for sharing your thoughts....God Bless!!

Audrey said...

Oh Stewart,

The air is filled with so much more than the blossom of the beautiful
Jacaranda trees today. Ive never actually seen one, yet its brought to life
in more ways than one just by taking that walk and listening to your words.

This without a doubt is the gift of your creation, the one we know and love
as Time and a Word, but within that, lies the essence and orientation of its
creator and author. The one who gave birth, nurtures with care,
responsibility, respect and knowledge its growth and presence.

I stumbled upon it some time ago, I sat silently for a time just being fed
and nourished by the experience of the visit, at the time I felt lost,unsure
of my own judgements and decisions to a point where my power seemed
unimportant and ineffectual...Time and a Word led me through that illussion.

Thank you for your gift xxxx Auds

Icarus said...

"Time" is asking for some more champagne now, but besides the thanks that can't be enough, I just have to thank Aurora (who is from Philipines, lives in Lisboa and we know each other from that other photo-site, woophy, or World of Photography - which is exactly what it is!):
Aurora, my thanks to you. I had forgotten to mention the acacia! There is one in the top mosaic, with a large jacarandá growing above it. Also, I was thinking of you just before you sent your comment! Glad you found your way here e seja bem vinda!

Stephen Bess said...

I've enjoyed this communication with you so far. I'm learning so much from you and others in the digital community. Learning is an important element to have in any relationship. Well, here's to another year! ;)

Pequete said...

Thank you so much for another beautiful and inspiring post. Your description of Lisbon in late spring took me back to my childhood and teenage years. I yearned for the month of June - the end of school, the warm nights filled with the sound of music of the popular saints' celebrations, grilled sardines and the book fair below the jacarandas at Parque Eduardo Sétimo (I think this is where my love for books started). I can picture you missing Lisbon from where you are now. You do have the Tejo closer, though. And crossing the bridge to the other side, a wonderful natural reserve with wetlans and montados, one of Europe's richest wildlife areas, you have to go there more often. Take your camera, I know you'll bring back wonders, and you can count on me to try and identify at least most of them.
Congratulations on the anniversary and thank you for always being around for us!

Mandi said...

Gorgeous photos. Jacaranda's are one of my favourite trees! And I agree with you I just love the purple carpet they leave on the ground. It's special.

Aurora said...

Obrigado Stewart! it must be
ESP that brought me back to Time, just needed to unwined when i opened my pc and check on my favorites & there it was Time & a Word...and im glad that i did open and read it..just the the right moment to soothe my senses...

Icarus said...

Lol, Aurora! It is the way in this little corner of cyber-space, I now think. It has nothing to do with me, rather some charmed existence of its own. Maybe like the island in Shakespeare's "The Tempest", full of strange sights & sounds.
The psychic is never really far away though.
I like the idea of soothing the soul, but that sounds so ostentatious, even pretencioso. Doing something that gives good to others, no matter how small, or temporary, is what matters. Or having a laugh. At times, this has been a deadly serious blog, as my "Orwellian" side can't keep my nose out of a cause.
Pequete, we are going to talk more on your suggestion. Hang on....I value what you have brought to this, because it is a confirmation, an "authentication certificate" on how I see/experience this time in the city. Now Sheila - and anyone else - has to make a note that this is the time to visit, at least once.

A year of blog-tourism has enriched me by bringing me such people (sounds like Miranda in the Tempest again lol!). The responses, saying such things, is truly a sustaining blessing. Thank you is such an inadequate word, but that's the word at this time.

Mauigirl said...

Congratulations on your anniversary, Stewart! And as always, thank you for the beautiful pictures. I didn't know Lisbon had such wonderful jacarandas. I've seen them in Hawaii but have not been in Lisbon at the right time of year I guess! I'll have to make a point of going in May on our next visit. May you always have at least one jacaranda to admire every May!

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

More beautiful words icarus and gorgeous pictures. May the "Time of Jacarandá" be in your dreams at night and may you one day awaken to it all once again or something else just as wonderful and lovely.
Pssssst...Angus is mostly just the king of being a plain nuicance...."pet me....rub me...I will absolutely keep bunting you and won`t leave you alone till you do" :)


tsduff said...

Hello S - I adore Jacaranda trees. Had them all over when I live in southern California :-) They won't grow in the cold where I live now.

I do love hearing from you and seeing your beautiful pictures. Enjoying your poetry this morning from my hotel here on the Cinque Terre, overlooking the rocky ocean. Last night as I looked over the moonlit sea toward Portugal I wondered if you were there. Ciao.

Icarus said...

As I have received confirmation of my suspicion that there is some problem with the comments moderator, I am posting this by proxy for Paul (NIKON101) - & Paul, (1) if I could write it 'à la Hem', I would be living a very different life, I suspect, & (2) if I tried, I think I could never show my face in 'Hemingway's Paris' ever again!!!
"I commented on your new post yesterday, I think. Did Blogger eat it up?
Anyway, it is a great series of pics & the one tree that is still near you - it is so sad to hear that they trimmed it to keep the sidewalks clean."
I must ask her if the cut-back was ordered by the local council.

Icarus said...

* Mimi, So now you know. I've given you a hot tip: say, between May 27 and 15 June, but best is the week that leads up to & includes June 13. You can make it this year, pack those bags!
* Buon giorno Terry e como stai? I know that Cinque Terre....I'm eating my heart out, though the weather doesn't look so great. I was/am here, but the reason you may not have been able to see me is that Spain & the interior of Portugal is in the way. If you try again, look for a little balcony with a red painted chair on it & an orange cat waving at you...
* Tea, talking of orange cats, M's yelling "hello" right now, honestly! I'm convinced A & M are made for each other. That bunting...leave them alone together & we can all get some peace. Get me your e-mail address, you have to see some prize peaches from her portfolio: stewart[at]netcabo.pt

afotografia said...

tahnk you for all your comments on my blog, yes it has been good a year of blog!

Icarus said...

Note: It's another blog-birthday. Marjan's 'afotografia' was also one year old yesterday May 30! Proficiat e parabéns!

kimananda said...

Thank you for these photos...when I lived in Lisbon, the jacaranda was one of my favorites.

Mauigirl said...

Thanks for the tip, will make sure next time we come to Lisbon we come during the time of the jacarandas!

We are on our way to Cape Cod and stopped in Fall River, Mass. tonight. I feel as if I have just been in Lisbon - we ate at our favorite Portuguese restaurant there, called Sagres, and enjoyed the fado music there. They have fado every Friday night there so we make sure to stop in Fall River on our way to the Cape every time, on a Friday night.

Icarus said...

What a great on-the-road report,Mimi! Thnaks. I can just picture & hear the whole scene. "Sagres": the name evokes so much historically, geographically. The 15/16th Cent. navigators school there. It seems a perfect balance that today it is present on the opposite side of the Atlantic.
I remember that the Cape was fanastic for fish dishes - with or without the Portuguese! Have a good time up there. I am going to visit all those jacaranda in 30 mins from now, rushing...

Carlos said...

Hi Stewart,
It was a pleasure to read your post and the comments. This time of year has always been my favourite: the end of school, the city feasts, the start of the warm weather, the Book Fair, my birthday, etc. Thank you for reminding me that and... Happy Birthday.

Sheila said...

Thanks for the comment.
Yes, I grew up in the West Midlands and lived there until I was almost 18.
This story is a memory of that time. I also wrote of leaving for Canada on my blog, if you are interested.

Cergie said...

Magnifique, on dirait de la soie de chine !
Je me régale à voir tes belles photos c'est tout ce que je peux faire après une nuit dans l'avion et le décalage horaire

(Je suis ravie que tu aies aimé "blême" Et puis mon père a habité la cité universitaire au pavillon de l'agro)

Kalyan said...

Some wonderfully captured shots & a wonderful description & your realisations. Congrats on your anniversary!