Why does it seem that with every year, winter seems to get longer and longer? No matter how mild the year, as with this past winter here in Extremadura, the dark days of the 'other' equinox drag on longer than your 10th grade math teacher droning on about algebra. I even sometimes find myself wishing that global warming would speed up.
But thankfully spring is in full swing here in Caceres, so much so that its usual intense but brief appearance may even be waning towards summer, with temperatures well into the 20's this week. The jasmine in my patio is heady and I find myself spending less and less time indoors. Soon the boom boom of the droning Semana Santa drums will echo along the millenial walls here in the Old Town and the saints will come out for their yearly airing, accompanied of course by their eerie, hooded retinue.
I came across these photos the other day on the Guardian, scenes of another spring equinox celebration, one that runs from Turkey to China, Nowruz. The picture below reminds me of a particularly curious conversation I had with a student of mine in Azerbaijan who had recently 'found religion' as it were.
After regaling me with respun words learned at the Saudi funded mosque regarding the wonders of a purer islam than that which could be found at the Iranian funded house of worship down the street, he then moved onto the Novruz celebration that was about to take place there in Baku. He filled me in on the delightfully pagan traditions of growing fresh green wheat sprouts on every kitchen table and of course, the cleansing jump over the fire seen below.
I didn't have the heart to ask him what his Wahabi wiseman thought of that...