Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cyprus mulings musings

wings over GreeceI'm back! I'm currently wrestling with a travelling bug that latched on to me somewhere in the air between Athens and London and hasn't released it's grip yet. The main symptoms are disturbed sleep, an extended period of bleating and honking in the morning, and the sensation that my head is trapped in a pressure chamber. Plus all the usual cold symptoms. Once this has been conquered, I can throw myself into my thesis and look for summer jobs, apply for loans, get my Nighthawk out on the road, etc., etc., but I also aim to share some Thoughts About Cyprus.

One of Cyprus's Great Tourist Symbols is the humble, adorable donkey. Before agriculture on the island reached its current level of modernization, donkeys were integral to the Cyprus grape harvest. Most of the vineyards today are accessible by ATVs and other harvesting vehicles, and they have been made more accessible by gentler graded fields. In the past, however, vineyards were steeply and narrowly terraced (you can still see the terraces, but they are no longer used), and donkeys were the best beasts for the job. Donkeys aren't used much anymore, however, and there are now a few donkey sanctuaries on the island that offer donkey rides and petting zoos.

Tourism destinations, even one as thoroughly touristified as Cyprus, can always defy expectations. I was privileged, for instance, to see a rather urbane donkey eating hay behind a gas station in a suburb of Paphos (he looked content, so I assume he was well-treated, but I haven't figured out if he was a pet, or meant to make British Villa-land seem more authentically "Cypriot"). This particular donkey was photographed in a grape-growing foothill area on our way to the Troodos [sic] mountains. Suitably "authentic," then, for a tourist's camera:

Cyprus donkey

Isn't he sweet? I just love donkeys and assorted pack animals. Taking into account my burro post, I should think of starting a category specifically for donkeys and burros.

More to come later!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Why lawns are bad:

You can't make eye contact with grass.

I generally have a great relationship with my indoor plants, but they do get a little huffy when they're being overwatered or don't get enough light. At times like those, I, too like to have a set of googly eyes hanging around...

"A good rule of thumb is, don't turn your back on a cactus."

"If enough of these ferns launched themselves down your throat, pfft. You'd choke."

"I always knew it was gonna be the ferns."

By the way, I don't think I've mentioned my plant set-up yet! I borrowed a light stand that belongs to a woman whose newspaper I used to deliver way back when. I remember seeing it just inside her potting room when I came to collect every week, loaded up with plants, the windows of the room full of condensation. If I can have even half the success that she had, I'll be happy.

nicotiana under lights

The farthest along at the moment are the tomatoes and the nicotiana. I'm not sure if the tomatoes will make it to planting day, since they are looking a bit peaky and I don't having any experience growing them. It was a free package of seeds, so I won't mind too much if I lose them. The Sheperds scabiosa and maltese cross is up and are just putting out their true leaves. Some columbine sprouted yesterday, and I have even seen four meconopsis seedlings, although I lost two of those (par for the course, I expect). One clematis seed also came up so far. Some seeds were very old and I didn't expect much from them - the lupins, for instance, are pushing 12 years old, and might not come up, although I did get one plant from the seeds last year. Similarly, the allium might take up to 5 years to sprout, according to some internet sources! The eryngium seeds didn't look too well when I planted them, and I think I drowned them too, so I am not expecting much from them.

I do love starting plants from seed. It appeals to the plant-loving self and the thrifty self. And you feel an attachment to perennials you start from seed that is a bit more companionable than nursery-bought perennials. You feel like you're in it together, right from the start. There's more familiarity.

Before I anthropomorphize plants any further, I should go do some packing. I'm off with my mother to Cyprus for 7 days (plus 4 days travel time), and if they ever confirm our flight home (we may have to stay in London forever, how terrible ), I should be home on the 19th. They say that it is wildflower season in Cyprus, I'm so excited! I hope I will have lots of pictures to share.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spring is coming...

This snowshoe hare says so! He still looks a little undecided; what think you?

Spring is coming

Y'know, they're so cute, until they eat your vegetable garden down to the ground! I won't worry - I've got a big, ugly, rusty ol' cage up around one bed to fend them off this year...