Hydrangeas & Saudade

This week’s morning harvests have been superb:  A mix of pea pods, arugula, lettuces, celery, Chinese cabbage, strawberries, and raspberries. IMG_1251

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back from our years in Portugal for over 13 months now. This week I’ve had nearly constant reminders of how much we loved our two years there. Oh how I miss Portugal, and I long to revisit the country and the people. The Portuguese have a beautiful word for this emotional yearning — saudade  — which they say has no translation into English, but here is an attempt:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudade At our hillside quinta, which is the Portuguese version of a villa or farm, hydrangeas lined much of the garden paths and lawns. I had almost constant, unlimited access to hydrangea blossoms and loved filling pitchers with a blend of soft blue and pink mopheads. As the weather cooled, the blooms turned deeper and more interesting, then finally dried into exceptionally rich hues.

I’ve yet to see blooms on most of the Coppertop hydrangeas scattered throughout these gardens, but that time is coming soon. Right now, the climbing hydrangeas, anomala petiolaris, are in full bloom. Here is the entryway to our vegetable garden and orchard two months ago: Image

And earlier this week: IMG_1109

This weekend we replaced a dead tree mallow with a young lacecap hydrangea — H. macrophylla normalis — in one of the barrels along the gravel stairway.  These will make lovely dried blooms as well. IMG_1266

Hydrangeas hold an additional pull on my heart. A decade ago, some women from church and I formed a small group called the Holy Hydrangeas. We shared life’s joys and heartaches in a trust-filled framework of deep faith. We were together many years, and the group is still connected, though a couple amazing women have now passed on.  Hydrangeas will always bring to mind the love we share. Saudade!

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