Love’s bloomin popcorn

By Jake Cleaver, in Arts & Lifestyle, Algarve · 12-02-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

If you are at a loss for something nice to say to somebody you care about (and you want to be a really smooth Spanish encantador) you might consider this: “Quiero hacer contigo lo que el invierno en el Algarve hace con los almendros”.

Now, some of you may have noticed that this is a blatant misquote of the Chilean politician and poet Pablo Neruda, who expressed a very similar sentiment about the cherry blossom in the spring in his home country.

However, I’m sure if he were to see how beautiful the almond blossom here in the Algarve is, he wouldn’t mind too much. We’re both getting at the same thing - we want to see you bloom.

Starting in early January and going through till March (or until the wind gets up), the almond trees, who up until now have been quite quiet and unassuming, start taking it in turns (nobody tries to outshine anybody else) to KA-BLOOM and explode into beautiful white and pink flowers. Incidentally, you might be interested to know that if you spot one of the more elusive pink flower variety - they are the bitter almonds. This is the far more pleasant way to find out, rather than tasting them in the autumn.

The explanation for why we are blessed with so many almond trees here in the Algarve is also lovely. The legend goes something like this: “Once upon a time, the King of Portugal wed a Nordic Princess. They were very much in love. But, every winter the new queen would get very sad.

“The king tried all he could think of to cheer her up. He took her on holiday to the Algarve. He showed her the beautiful beaches. He even had his servants go skipping and pirouetting into the sea wearing their finest attire, but all to no avail. As beautiful as the Algarve is in the winter, she missed the snow of her homeland.

“The king was at a loss of what to do. But one day when out horse riding through the green fields in February, he noticed a lone tree with the most beautiful white flowers. It’s then that the king had his epiphany. He ordered that trees like this should be planted as far as the eye could see.

“The next year when the king and his queen came back down south for the winter, the queen stepped out of their holiday palace, and looked up to see all the trees covered in white (just like she remembered from her childhood) and snow in the form of almond blossom came swirling and twirling down on the wind and fell at her feet. From that day on, all her sadness disappeared. The king and his beautiful queen lived happily ever after.”

Some of you might be sceptical of this story. Was the king really so desperate to get his queen to smile that he sent his servants for a swim in mid winter? Remember, it was them that would be preparing his dinner later. Or, maybe you think that it’s ridiculous that just a little blossom could make the royal couple happy forever? And perhaps you are right. Life is complicated. No matter who you are. But sometimes, on cold crisp days, when the sky is that deep Algarve blue we love so much, and the sunlight is shining through the grass, and you see the first beautiful ‘snowball’ on the tree - with the promise that everyday more and more of those little buds will pop open like, well… popcorn. I think that, maybe, it’s true.



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