Quarantine in a cave

Musings From Quarantine in a Cave: Part Two

Spring didn’t really happen for me last year. I left a still-chilly Granada in mid-April for a week in Cornwall, and then jetted off for a month in the USA.

Remember when we got to do things like that?

I had a marvellous time, but Texas and Louisiana don’t really do spring as I know it. Just endless, earth-shattering thunderstorms.

And by the time I was back in Granada at the end of May, summer was making its presence known.

So it’s probably a mix of the fact that I skipped a spring, and the effects of lockdown that have reopened my eyes to the wonders of spring in Andalusia.

The British spring is unique, and spectacular, when the weather it decides to behave itself.

It blends seemlessly into summer, with the landscape remaining a rainbow of green, and temperatures often – depressingly – staying much as they are.

Warm days for lying around on green grass might materialise at any point from April to October.

But in the hills of southern Spain, where the mercury soars come June, the window is narrower and all the more precious.

When summer hits, sitting out in the sun becomes impossible, and months of cloudless skies mean any green grass, a scarce commodity as it is, is baked to beige within days.

But on warm spring days, when April showers aren’t falling, you can luxuriate in the full glare of the sun’s rays, as long as you put plenty of suncream on.

It’s the time of year when half of Granada’s residents would normally be fighting over tables on sunny tapas bar terraces, still craving the warmth after the long winter in the shadow of the snow-capped mountains, and the other half would already be hunting the shade.

This year, there are no terraces to distract us from the magic of spring.

Around the cave, wildflowers bloom, dotting open stretches of long wavy grass between olive trees with yellow, white and pale pink.

Last weekend, the population of Spain was allowed to poke their noses over their doorsteps for exercise for the first time since the middle of March. The allocated times, are between 6am and 10am, and again from 8pm to 11pm.

In theory, it’s designed to give children and the elderly their own slots during the rest of the day. But it means that the roads around our usually tranquil corner of Granada, on the edge of Alhambra land, become rivers of people at about 8.30 pm, once everyone has struggled up the hill with their lethargic lockdown legs.

So in practice, it’s spectacularly impractical.

The other morning I was out for my very first lockdown run at about 9 am, and the spring morning was enchanting.

Our five senses are all heightened at the moment, having been staring at the same walls for the last two months, so I was so aware of the beauty of it all.

The cool breeze murmured through the grass, taking the scent of pine needles with it. The morning sun was starting to glimmer through the highest branches as it climbed its way up into the pale blue sky.

And suddenly, it all seemed so exotic.

Just like it did when I first came to Granada at the age of 21 and explored this unique corner of Spain I’d never even heard of before.

After two years of living here, I’d rather lost that sense of wonder at the foreign beauty I’m surrounded by. But lockdown and springtime have brought it all back.

That sense of excitement at being somewhere so beautifully unknown.

How did I ever come to this life for granted? Present-me, freelancing from a Spanish cave, has a life that past-me only pictured in her wildest daydreams.

I know I will come to take this all for granted again. We’ll all come to take the small things we’re missing for granted again, because that’s just the way we human beings are.

But for now, I’m counting my blessings and trying to live firmly in the moment, noticing every flower, every scent, and revelling in the feeling of warm spring sunshine on my skin.

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