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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A hymn to the Carpathian meadows

Back in Bucharest - and straining to get into the mountains. A wonderful hymn to the area in the current National Geographic
these valleys in the Carpathian Mountains in the centre of Romania contain one of the great treasures of the cultivated world: some of the richest and most botanically diverse hay meadows in Europe. You can find up to 50 different species of grass and flowers growing there in a single square yard of meadow, and even more within reach as you sit down among them. This flowery miracle is maintained not by nature but by nature worked with the human hand. The richness is there only because a meadow stays a meadow if it is mown every summer. Abandoned, it will be filled with scrub in three to five years. As it is, for the moment anyway, Transylvania is a world made beautiful by symbiosis. All day long the smell of the meadows gradually thickens, and as the sun drops, the honey-sharp smell of the butterfly orchids, night scented, pollinated by moths, comes seeping out of the hillsides. Go for a walk, and you’ll find the flowers crowding around your feet. Practically no chemical sprays and no artificial fertilizers—too expensive and distrusted by these poor, small-scale farmers—mean the hillsides are purple with meadow salvia and pink with sainfoin.
The photo is one you will find in a marvellous album The colour of Hay. But an even greater treat is the occasional blog Carpathian Sheep Walk by Caroline Juler, author (amongst other things) of the delightful Blue Guide  Romania which I referred to in in a blog about good books about Romania some time ago.
If its photographs you are after, have a look at these great pics of the countryside in the Maramures area further north.

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