Hymn to an almond

DAY 111 (25 JULY) – Almond tree (Prunus dulcis) (Vejer, Spain)

All trees are wonderful things. Then there are some trees that are especially pleasing. I may have been influenced by the whole scene. An old farmhouse, a tree, a wheelbarrow and a donkey – like a painting. But I don’t think so. There are two or three of these trees together, and I couldn’t stop looking at them. This one with its split trunk, the way it leans gently both ways. Its pale, flickering leaves. And its perfect proportions in the small corner on the edge of town where it finds itself.

Then the almonds, waiting in their yellow velvet cases for the right moment to offer themselves up. There’s so much made with almonds here. Cold soups with garlic, chicken dishes, afternoon pastries with almond cream, almonds with hard crunchy cases in white, mauve and sky blue, Christmas sponges. This is almond country. And this piece of land has almonds at its centre.

Of course the Spanish are not alone in revering the almond. It was one of the earliest fruit trees, domesticated as long ago as the Bronze Age. There was evidence of almond trees at the archeological site at Numeria in Jordan. And an almond was even found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

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