In limbo, longing for Spring

We’re not there yet… March is a limbo month: the winter snows have gone but the new grass and the colours of Spring are still waiting below ground, waiting waiting for the sun to warm the earth and give the signal to begin the growing season. But soon, soon!

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Lost puppy finds a happy ending

 

You may have seen the story – a few posts back – about a lost puppy who turned up at my gate, starving and abandoned, on 5th November.

I tried to ignore him, but he wouldn’t go away even if I yelled at him to shove off. After a few days, he was obviously starving, and determined to stay around. So I fed him outside the gate, and he ate enormously, pathetically grateful, crawling to my feet, rolling over, showing his belly in submission, desperate for acceptance.

I surrendered. It had started snowing; he was shoulder deep in frozen flakes, weighed down by frozen balls of snow on his face and legs, and I couldn’t cope with the thought of falling over his starved and frozen body. I decided to…. Read the rest of the story

UFOs over the village

Magura is a brilliant place for cloud-watchers. Any other members of the Cloud Appreciation Society in Romania? This is the place for you. Last night’s sunset gave us a double hit, one puffball looming over Pestera, and a pod of spaceships hanging over Piatra Craiului. Stunning. [For other cloud pics, see earlier post.]

Pestera, Magura, Bran, Transylvania, clouds, Cloud Appreciation Society, lenticular clouds

A giant pink powderpuff looms over Pestera

Clouds, lenticular cloud, Magura Transylvania, Romania, sunset,

Lenticular clouds are quite common over the ridge

Cherry-picking in a thunderstorm

My brave chum Sergiu up an aluminium ladder at the top of my sour-cherry tree, just beneath some power lines… Picking the heavy crop of fruit (visine) for jam and cherry brandy. Not-my-dog Papi is guarding the ladder against the chickens, while Gabriela and I watch from a safe distance. The thunder was cracking overhead, although the lightning didn’t seem to get closer than Moieciu. But you never know with mountain storms, and I was waiting for Sergiu to fly off the ladder, his hair smoking…

Visine, visinata, thunderstorm, furtuna, fulger

Sergiu braving the lightning to pick cherries

Spring? Hurrah!

Amazing what 24 hours can deliver… First thing this morning, this was the sight from my window. Note the snow all over the main ridge, dusting the trees. But also note the sunshine, blue sky and green grass.

First thing

First thing

Three hours later, the snow on the trees had melted, leaving only the rock abve 2,000 metres covered in snow. Spring is here – official. There will be plenty of rain ahead, but maybe, just maybe, we’ve finally seen the last of the white stuff.

Midday, and spring is here

Midday, and spring is here

Spring? Bah!

22nd April. Should be green and balmy, blossom bursting, bees a-buzz, lambs leaping, ad inf. Is it?

Is it diddley.

Here was the weather on my birthday, two days ago. The morning’s offering of snow having melted, this was the next white dump on its way.

IMG_4219 white0ut

And here we are this morning, back to winter clothes. Bees and birds are back by their firesides, blossom is struggling to get back into its shell, lambs are shuddering with cold and the cats are snoring by the blazing fire in my study.

IMG_4221

Spring – WHERE ARE YOU?

Come on, baby, light my fire!

A blaze of Transylvanian excitement on 25th October! Julia Leescu tells us about an event you won’t want to miss…

fire, bonfire, Sumedru, Saint Dimitriu, foc, pagan festivals, fire festivals, Transylvania, Carpathians, Romania

Sumedru’s fire in Sirnea – come and join the autumn festivities in one of the prettiest villages in the Carpathians.

While most of Europe burns festive fires on Midsummer’s Night, Romanians of the Bran-Moeciu area do things differently and celebrate their Bonfire Day in late October.
Not a bad decision, we say: all work in the fields is done, sheep are back in the villages, shepherds are back with their children and wives, huge piles of local cheese and dried meat are prepared and palinca (local strong alcohol) is distilled for winter. Time to party! Winter is coming: it’s time for Sumedru’s fire (Jim Morrison would be proud).
If you thought that Romanian rural tourism is all about Christian orthodox traditions, your tourist guide might be just wrong. Scratch the surface of many traditions and you’ll see pagan roots. Same goes for St Dimitrie’s holiday – the pre-Christian god Sumedru has transformed himself into Saint Dumitru over the centuries, but the meaning of the old celebration stays the same. The great fire in each of the nine villages of Bran means the death of one season and the birth of the next: the start of a new cycle of life. The bonfire is also said to protect the village against lightning strikes. With wooden houses, this is an important consideration…
The ‘funerary pyre’ of the dead summer purifies everyone around it: dancing and singing children, old folks with boxes full of homemade pastries and chocolate bars, flirting teenagers with torches, daring youths leaping through the flames, locals and tourists.
The fire is usually built on a high hill so everyone can see it. The celebration may last well into the night with concerts around the fire and late festive dinners afterwards at someone’s house.
Visiting any of the Nine Villages on Sumedru’s night offers charming surprises: last year we attended the night celebration in Sirnea village, where local school professor Radu Fruntes organised a great concert with local children lighting the fire, singing and dancing. Later there was a huge party at Radu’s house with hot wine, authentic shepherd-style food and treats and long talks about life with the local police and the mayor.
This year we’re going to Sirnea village again to charge our batteries with authentic Carpathian earth energy, and enough good food to survive the long fast until Christmas.
If you feel a bit cold this Autumn – join Sumedru’s celebration and feel the heat…

Would you like to join us in Sirnea? the evening is Saturday 25th October, but we’ll confirm other information (how to get there, where to stay, what to bring etc) as soon as possible. Leave a comment here, or send us an email with your contact details and we’ll be in touch soon. Please note: this is a traditional and local event, unlike the big commercial thing happening in Bran, so there will be a limit on how many can come to Sirnea. Let us know you’re coming as soon as possible See you there!