Lyrics and music of a landscape

L The frequent and abundant rains throughout April and May set their fruit of almost jungle-like vegetation in the Cabreirés landscape, which flourished as never before in all the splendor of its exuberant and variegated foliage. But even before this explosion of green with all its tones and shades, another color had preceded it, painted on the high slopes, unfolding like an endless lance by a celestial cape, taking it, as the bullfighters say, soaked. It happened as always towards the end of April, when the mountains and hills of Cabreirés then began to be dyed with the purple color of the heather flowers that cover those high and lower slopes.

It is an elongated stain in that endless lance that he spoke of and that leads to the eyes caught in their magical sedation, dreamy eyes that suddenly find themselves reading a marvelous melody in the undulating score: evoking the famous couplet, we could apply to the mountain what the couplet says of the Lily, that «her temples have turned purple with martyrdom». The mountain, the temples: there remains that exciting conjunction between the sensed melody and the flowering of a sowing that seems to refer to divine authorship: that «dust released from God, when shaking the creative hands», said in the magnificent style of Cunqueiro.

It is pleasant to walk through the countryside in autumn, the air is warm to the breath and the light flows so gently that the distances seem to blur into vague distances. In spring, on the other hand, what we want most is to stop and contemplate, because now the colours seem to shine superimposed on the newly-opened clarity of the days. It is not at all strange, if autumn is what is moving away, becoming innervated, while spring is what is coming, awakening.

Thus, the green colour imposes on the Cabreirés spring landscape the whole range of its shades, as the grasses sprouting in the meadows and the leaves of the trees and bushes develop, from light and tender green to the dark green that culminates in the oaks. Yellow breaks into the amalgam, which also comes with its small palette. The leaves of the brooms paint a bright cadmium yellow, finishing off the green twigs like silky buttons. Nearby, the gorse bushes raise their unruly mass of branches and flowers, these in a corn-coloured tone. The foxtail spindles are the last to contribute their bouquets to the yellow parade, together with the fennel and the fennel, these already leading to pale lemon green. For their part, the lavender flowers provide their counterpoint in purple “of martyrdom” in the floral concert. They were like the brooms collected to decorate the Corpus Christi procession, scattered in the streets where the holy sacrament passed.

All those patches of colour constituted the letter written in the exciting notebook of the landscape, or if we saw it as a score, the notes of a melody printed on it. Suddenly the lords of the songbirds come to the fore, and at this time we seem to hear their songs precisely interpreting those notes, those melodies. Thus, the blackbird played its flute tuned in G major for a melody in andante. And the thrush (called malvís in Cabrera) with its endless quarrel spilled from a tall poplar. And the king nightingale, vibrant and in love with its innumerable variations of a love theme. And the cuckoo: its song of two notes in a descending minor third interval always sounds distant, emitted from an oak grove to fall on the landscape like a lustral spell on the fields in bloom. They all develop their musical phrasing to underline or perhaps accentuate the visual melody of the flowers. Because the landscape is a museum and a concert hall, thus confusing both chromaticisms, visual and sound; the two scales, chromatic and musical.

These, now seen, fields adorned with rain aside, did not always have this carnal glow, this contiguous and contagious musicality. It is the same old terrace, but now orphaned by traditional crops, the rye dominating the slopes up to the top, with corners occupied by rows of vines in front of the receding forest. The bottom or bowl of the valleys was reserved for the well-tended meadows and the potato and vegetable gardens. The colours were therefore more muted in a more homogeneous landscape. Neither a museum nor a concert hall, but rather a pantry; the ancients said it: living comes first, there will be time later for other pursuits and enjoyments. The rain played its indispensable part in the adornment of the landscape, but more important than decorum was the harvest and one way of ensuring it was the liturgical blessing of those fields in the spring. However, in the villages, the well-rooted traditional faith could coexist without any major problem with an irreverent and sarcastic humour. It was said in Cabrera: “A sheep’s dung is worth more than a bishop’s blessing.” No music, just lyrics for a pragmatic and reasonable conviction.

It is the same old terraced land, but now orphaned by traditional crops, rye dominating the slopes up to the top, with corners occupied by rows of vines in front of the receding forest.

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