Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Delta Rice Harvest

A drive to El Perello this morning to attend a local church committee meeting, mostly taken up with plans for the Harvest Festival celebration and supper. It seems this is something that our Spanish hosts at St Ioan Bautista Parish Church, L'Ampolla take an interest in, as it's not part of their custom. Since my last visit Brian has put up the new Bona Fe sign above the door way. Putting the sign up was, apparently far less challenging than getting the printed sign off its backing material and on to the supporting board, but a fine job has been done, nevertheless.
After the meeting, I drove home via the Delta, first visiting Camarles, a village which is on a ridge less than forty feet above the level of the sea plain, allowing views over a great area of the Delta, though not quite as far as the sea.
The colour of the rice fields let by the afternoon sun is hauntingly beautiful. The plants retain their green colour, but the rice itself goes pale yellow, giving the overall colour an infinitely variable texture, which the camera cannot really do justice to.
I drove on past Deltebre, the main town of the region, strung out along the banks of the river Ebre. On the roadside out of town I got my first glimpse of rice harvesting, just starting.
The huge mowing machines are built to drive through a metre of mud as they mow. A couple of farm labourers accompany the vehicle on foot to trouble shoot any problems arising from stalks bunching up and jamming the rotary blades. I watched them emerge for a break. They were shirtless, and the shorts one of them was wearing were covered in grey silt up to the waist. He jumped into the irrigation canal with relief to wash it off. Not a pleasant job, even in the heat. Only the gulls, egrets and terns seemed to be enjoying a good day out.
I drove on to Riumar, and saw the new Deltebre municipal marina for leisure craft and fishing boats. All along the river bank here are boats of various sizes offering differently themed excursions down river as far as the sea - a great way to see the wild-life above and below the water-line. I parked just outside the nature reserve and followed a well groomed trail along the water's edge. There are two tall observation platforms, an iron one of 10 metres and an ingeniously designed wooden one of 15 metres, which reminded me of those school book drawings of a Babylonian ziggurat.
As I was about to climb and take in the view, I had a welcome text message from Clare back in Cardiff to say that her cataract operation this morning had been successful. How much she'd love this view, and now enjoy it that much better. Happily I'd uploaded them so that she could view then on-line just before we Skyped after supper.

The views in every direction are spectacular, but it was difficult to capture a sense of the vast open space surveyed by the moving eye. I watched a flock of a dozen black herons fly across the river mouth, but they were too far away to photograph. Just below the horizon, a couple of kilometres away, the waves of the Mediterranean fall on a sand bar where the river enters the sea. It's a such a complex and diverse landscape, perhaps the best way to enjoy it would be by hot air balloon.
I admit to being less than pleased with the photos I took with my Sony HX5 - most of them using the wide angle lens configuration with zoom. Perhaps that's pushing it to the extreme of its effectiveness as a camera, I'd love to do better.

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