Thursday 21 April 2016

Ode to the Costa Brava poppy ...

If there's one flower that really makes my heart sing it's the wild field poppy. Here on the Costa Brava there are millions of them, all over the shop, dancing in the breeze, and looking splendid in the warm spring sunshine. To me they represent pure joy.

Where we live, in Baix Empordà, there's a lot of arable farming, which involves a great deal of ploughing and digging.  And, at this time of the year, there's always a wonderful crop of poppies around the edges of the fields. Just look at how beautifully they're growing around this field of rape seed (photo below). I'm not a huge fan of rape seed: it's a take-over plant and I don't like how it smells. Here, however, the beautiful contrast of the poppy red and rapeseed yellow is so cheerful - especially with a wonderful blue Costa Brava sky overhead.

Poppies famously grow where the earth has been disturbed, which is why we have such a fine crop of them along the sides of our fields. It's also how they became Britain's flower of remembrance. All over the battlefields of the Western Front during the First World War the poppies grew and prospered where the earth had been mutilated by shells and explosives. For those battle-weary troops in the trenches, looking out at the devastation all around them, they must have provided a welcome dash of colour and beauty: a reminder of life's simple pleasures in a world of carnage and craziness.

I know that I should think of the sacrifice and the horrors of warfare that the Remembrance Poppy represents, but when I look at these beautiful flowers I think instead of happy, carefree days in the Costa Brava sunshine. For me, the poppy is a colourful presence on the margins of my world; a wild interloper who comes and goes as it pleases. They're here today and gone tomorrow. There's absolutely no point in cutting them to bring indoors as they only last a day before they die. And, as they sit there wilting sadly in a vase, they remind me of a wild bird in a cage. They don't belong indoors on the table: they belong outdoors, blowing freely in the breeze.

The locals think I'm bonkers. They look disapprovingly at me when I crouch down to get a better shot of a corn poppy, una amapola, a flower that's about as common as grass. But I think they miss the point: beauty can be found everywhere. There's no reason to be sniffy about the everyday and the commonplace: they can be beautiful and inspiring too. In fact it's those familiar, everyone-knows-them things that are to be most cherished because they're totally democratic. You don't need to be part of a monied elite with a fancy schmancy garden of exotics to recognise them: they're ready, free and available for everyone to stop by and admire. And that makes them even more special in my book.

So here's to the magic that lives in the everyday and the wonderful wild poppy.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

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