I shan't write down the rest of the refrain here, as it might be found offensive by the unimaginative, or even by the over imaginative!
Quite simply it's wonderful that May is here, and we can begin to see the tender lime-green leaflets of the chestnut leaves emerging on bare branches, and forming a veil which softens the scene, like a theatrical drop of netting which can be lit to create special effects of mist or smoke or a golden glow.
The new leaves lend a new density and depth to the landscape, which during winter shows the hard edge of the hills, and exposes the bare, twisted, Arthur Rackham-ish shapes of the pollarded chestnut trees.
By June, all will have blended into one green curtain with shadows of darkness and light, but for now we have the month of the verdant veil, and are awoken every morning by the birds singing their spring songs as they find themselves a mate or claim their own territory.
Whilst cleaning the cottage pools and preparing them for the first warm weather, I was serenaded by a Golden Oriole, which moved swiftly from tree to tree, and yet remained invisible to me. The nightingales are pairing off by the stream, and soon will be singing by day and by night. Blackbirds and song thrushes too add richness to the spring symphony, and in the cloudburst of jasmine which should, last year, have been pruned to the wall, but is now over a foot deep, I can hear the thin high-pitched song of the wren.
After the late rains we have been finding chanterelles and morels, and the stream is gushing in the valley, and grass and wildflowers are bursting forth.
On Saturday we drove to a remote farmhouse to celebrate a friend's birthday. The Dehesa was carpeted in purple and mauve, yellow and white. The gum cistus is in flower and dots the dark hillsides with blotches of white.
There were around 100 people gathered at the Cortijo, drinking manzanilla sherry, red and white wine or beer, and tucking into shrimp, and Ibérico ham, and delicious gazpacho, all of which was layed out on the long tables, covered with gingham cloths. A young man carved two hams for the assembly with great skill, until nothing was left but hoof and bone. He then severed the joints and there were good bones, salty bones, for making an excellent stock. A group, already merry, began to sing and clap time.
Then we were called outside to the summer kitchen, where a huge pot had been simmering away for several hours, with a cocido of chickpeas and Iberian pork. More tables covered in checked cloths were lined up in front of stone benches, topped with sun-warmed brick. We sat and tucked in to the comforting dish, served with crusty fresh village bread.
All around the house there was a stunning 'carefully neglected' garden, filled with roses of every hue, dark crimson peonies and white or purple iris. A vivid dark blue Ceanothus looked dramatic against the white walls of the old house, and soft greyish purple hibiscus bushes were like puffs of smoke at the foot of the pale lilac trees.