Monday, September 27, 2004

Sweet winds, exotic groceries and stones.

The beautiful things for the next five days come from Sardinia.

1. Each place in the Mediterranean smells different. Coming off the plane, we snuff nosefuls of Sardinian air, guessing the scents. The first one I recognise is cistus, mossy and medicinal but warm and sweet. We grow this crinkly, papery, shocking pink rock rose in the garden. If you put your nose right up close to the tiny leaves on a really hot, still English summer day, you can smell it. We were given its resin, labdanum, to sniff at an incence workshop I went to recently. It is harvested using goats. They drive flock through the bushes and then comb the resin out of their coats.

2. Foreign supermarkets. We raced round looking for familiar food in unfamiliar packaging: 'They've got Nutella in JUGS!' Treaty foods like grapes and Parma ham were very cheap, while breakfast cereals were rather expensive. And other things were just scary: 'Can we get some frozen octopus?' 'Time to leave...'

3. We scrambled down to a white beach in a rocky cove. On a rock just out to sea, someone had made three neat stacks of rounded pebbles.