Friday, October 01, 2004

Witch, fallen civilisation and moonrise.

1. Fuili Gorge is full of oleander – Sardinia’s version of Britain’s rhododendron problem. The long snakey branches twist across the path, barring our way at every turn. Where they collapse under their own weight they throw up vertical stems like fences. Nothing else grows in the half light. A white fungus like disembodied paws groped its way along dead branches. Someone had marked the path in strange and subtle ways – here a white pebble pushed into a forked branch; there a little cairn. ‘It’s a witch’s wood. Don’t eat anything you find.’ ‘Not even figs?’ ‘Especially not figs.’ Then we heard goat bells clonking, and suddenly we were out in the sunshine again.

2. We drove out into the country to visit a nuraghic ruin. The tower is built of huge basalt blocks – no mortar – and stood two storeys tall, watching the coast. We realised that we were directly above the beach where we had left Robert and Rose climbing – when the sea level was higher, this bay would have been an important strategic landing place. Apart from the tower, no other structure stands more than four courses tall. Much of the site is overgrown with tough bushes and olive trees block the tower’s view. It is strange to think that 3,500 years ago the surrounding hectares were covered in a village of little round houses full of people who didn’t know about writing. Then 2,000 years ago the Romans chased them out and took down some of the beehive houses to put up a few square buildings of their own.

3. ‘Where’s the moon?’ Each evening so far, we had been treated to a fat full moon rolling out a silvery path over the sea. But it was a little cloudy and we were eating early, and it hadn’t risen. Just as the waitress took our order, the moon appeared bright red through the clouds above the harbour bar. ‘The hunters’ moon,’ I commented darkly. ‘You’re just making that up. It’s an omen of doom.’ But by the time our pasta arrived, the moon was well away across the vault of the heavens and a friendly silver once again.