from last month....
alongside the many streams of the mountain there was also
a flowering; more hyacinths, and then mostly tiny things,
such as the scented violet, chickweed, red and yellow pimpernel,
white clover, and in the water itself much watercress which
Rafik and I gathered for our midday meals.
The winding roads of the mountain, later to
become ankle-deep in white dust, were bordered by fleshy-leaved,
grey-hued aloes and cacti.
The passing of the goat flock in front of my
window was being repeated by others throughout Lanjaron; everywhere
house doors were being opened to pass out animals of all sorts,
hungry for the feed of the mountain. The animals were attended
by men and youths, frequently gypsies, either on foot or mounted
on their donkeys, mules or horses, the latter very often colourfully
decorated with harness and saddle trappings, the saddles being
embroidered with bright wools and hung with fringes- which
are also a deterrent to flies- of crimson and saffron wools,
almost always only those two colours.
The music of that Sierra Nevada procession of
animals! Collar and harness bells pealed, hooves beat wild
on the modern concreted road, the herd dogs barked, and men
shouted instructions to their mounts. 'Burr-O!' for their
donkeys, 'gall-arr' for their mules, and 'hack-ah' the horses.
The herding cry for the goats was always 'she-bah, she-bah!'
Otherwise the men are very silent; but away by the streams
of the three water-mills and the narrow river Husagre, the
women sang as they washed their household linen and clothes-and
they gossiped much, also, one about the other. Washing work
on the mountains was very easy.
Washing machines and soap powders were not needed.
Exposure to the fierce sun bleached out all stains, and likewise
dried out all moisture in quick time. Housework too, was very
easy. A sweep-out with an old-fashioned broom, then a wipe-over
of furniture, with paper to remove dust, then a cloth moistened
first with vinegar to erase marks, then polished with a little
olive oil, made fragrant by having steeped in it, again in
the hot sun, mountain flowers from lavender and thyme to scented
The singing heard on the Sierra Nevada is typical
Anda-luz. The sweet and sad throbbing chant of flamenco, which
resembles Moorish song, was doubtless influenced by the long
occupation by the Moors of the Andalusian area of Spain facing
The women and girls also go forth from the houses
to the sierra; they to the nearer places to cut fodder for
the immediate needs of those animals which have not gone to
the sierra to graze, and to gather also herbs for their cooking,
especially fennel and sorrel, sweet mint, a sweet watercress,
water-celery and a form of wild onion of much abundance. Watercress
is not very popular with them, and they scorn chickweed and
nettles, all of which Rafik and I ate in a daily salad, especially
the water-celery. That going to and from the mountain of the
people and animals was the heart of the life of that part
of the Sierra Nevada. Every evening I took my child to meet
the procession of the animals; for he loved the beasts of
all kinds as much as I loved them, and that was very much
My greatest affinity was for the herbivorous
creatures, especially sheep, goats, cows, horses, camels,
and the wild deer. On the sierra roads I met with an abundance
of all except the camel and deer, although that latter animal
also lives in some remoter parts of the mountain. How good
it was to be close to so many animals and all of them in fine
health, excepting perhaps some of the cows which suffered
from mastitis, due mostly, I believe, to irregular milking
and being walked long distances when their udders were un-naturally
heavy with milk. Rafik and I liked to see the great herds,
and have the sweet herbage scent of them, and touch their
strong bodies with our hands. The goats especially came to
know us, and would greet us in their high vibrant voices and
nuzzle against us.
to be continued...
here for another excerpt from Juliette's Nature's Children,
"treatment of fevers"
“In Memory of Juliette the Grandmother of Herbal medicine”
Spanish Mountain Life
Author: Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
This jewel-like memoir by noted herbalist and traveler Juliette de Bairacli Levy details her personal struggle against typhus fever, during which she gave birth to her second child, Luz, who had to be suckled by a nanny goat. As ever we are embraced by Juliette's love of nature and animals, and welcomed onlookers as she relates with people whose lives are far different from ours. 114 pages,
Spanish Mountain Life in our Bookshop