Spring in the middle of winter
During the month of January in Mallorca a small meteorological miracle takes place known as the January calm, or “las calmas de enero” in Spanish, a brief, euphoric spring in the heart of winter. At this time of the year the sea level is lower and the calm days are a result of high atmospheric pressure. The daytime temperatures increase and the sea level drops between 20 and 40cm. We are blessed with sunny, still days accompanied by calm seas that are like a millpond. This coincides with a spectacle that links natural beauty and human intervention as the first fruit tree of the year comes into flower. As the first cereal shoots start to emerge, the almond trees begin to blossom and are covered in elaborate rich brocades, with delicate, vaporous flowers that will become sweet fruit in summer.
Mallorca is covered in a blanket of pink and white tones during this period that offers us a glimpse of spring. As in Japan or the Jerte Valley with the flowering of the cherry blossom, seeing the almond blossom in bloom is a magnificent sight that instils in us a sense of new beginnings. Discover more about our island by staying at Inturotel where you’ll be able to witness small miracles of nature just like this.
Vincent van Gogh, one of the world’s great artistic geniuses, had a special relationship with trees in blossom and for him they represented an awakening, new life and hope. He demonstrated his fascination for them in his work Amandelbloesem (Almond Blossom), painted in honour of the birth of his nephew.
Like Vincent (who suffered from a bipolar disorder all his life, experiencing periods of severe depression that forced him into isolation), on a global level we are all going through a difficult period, of social isolation, introspection and in some cases unwanted solitude. More than ever, we need to have hope and faith that the situation will soon improve and that once again we will be able to enjoy our social events and trips to the sun and sea of Cala d’Or in Mallorca.
Seeing the almond blossom fills us with optimism and a desire to make plans for the warmer weather, such as enjoying the countryside, the mountains and the beach in a celebration of the senses that represents leaving this long winter behind us and holding out hope for a better future.
The almond tree, the tree of lovers
The almond tree is the tree of lovers and its blossom symbolises love, death and resurrection. There is a Mallorcan saying that goes: “Flor d’ametller, amor vertader” (almond flower, true love). Below we explain the reason behind this saying.
Almond trees typically grow in warm climates and studies show that they possibly originated in Central Asia and North Africa from where they were introduced to Greece and Rome. Mythology explains their origin through the beautiful yet sad tale of Phyllis and Acamas.
[Salto de ajuste de texto]Phyllis, a princess of Thrace, was in love with Acamas, a handsome young soldier who was sent to fight in the Trojan War.
At the end of the war the soldiers returned home. Every day Phyllis went to the port to await her beloved’s ship, but the days passed and he did not return. On the ninth day, convinced he would never return, the princess died of sorrow.
The goddess Athena, grieved by what had taken place, turned Phyllis into an almond tree. The next day Acamas returned, having been delayed because of damage to the ship in which he was travelling.
On discovering what had happened, the heartbroken Acamas embraced the tree and Phyllis responded to his embrace and his pain by adorning her branches with beautiful white flowers.
Since then, the almond blossom has symbolised how love overcomes all, even death, or that the flowers are a comfort for those we love. Almond blossom means eternal life.
A typical Mallorcan landscape
Come and wander along the rural tracks near our hotels on foot or by bike, without rushing and taking everything in. You’ll discover that almond trees are not usually grown on their own, but rather in Mallorca they are planted with carob trees and to a lesser extent fig trees, with them alternating along the symmetrical rows of the fields.
Looking up you’ll be enchanted by the pink and white blossom of the almond trees and looking down the earth is like a green carpet flecked with the cheery yellow stains of the Bermuda buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae). If you’re really quiet and go for a walk very early or late on in the day you might spot a hare, partridge or rabbit scampering by.
The branches of the almond tree provide home for birds such as the black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), the Sardinian warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) and flocks of goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) that eat the small insects and parasites that invade the trees. Running and hopping over the fields of green carpet you’ll see quick and nimble white wagtails (Motacilla alba).
You might get to hear the fleeting flight (like the buzzing of an insect) of the song thrush (Turdus philomelos). And high up in the intense blue sky you might spot the majestic flight of a red kite (Milvus milvus), a sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) and flocks of crows.
A pleasant activity that many locals participate in is making bouquets from some of the most beautiful branches to bring the promise of spring into the house. You can create a small “ikebana” (living flower), the Japanese art of flower arranging. To do so you need to select a single branch or various branches of a species that is in season, in this case the almond tree. When choosing your branch or branches, it is important to consider the vase or container that you are going to use, as the shape and distribution of the flowers and buds must be in harmony with the container and the space in which it is positioned (preferably in the entrance hall to greet visitors with this natural world in miniature). Provided you only take a small branch you won’t harm the tree or the farmer. Every flower that is picked represents one less fruit in the summer.
Did you know that the almond flower is edible? It has a bittersweet taste that means the flower is highly prized in oriental cuisine as it can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. It is used in soups, infusions (very good for the digestion) and desserts. In Mallorca, however, it is the fruit, the almond, that is the star and an essential ingredient in delicious sweet and savoury recipes.
Recommended routes for contemplating this paradise
The municipal district of Felanitx, just a few metres from the Inturotel hotels, has one of the best-preserved rural landscapes on the island. You will find beautiful walks through areas of special natural interest right on the doorstep of your room.
The walk to Cala Mitjana and Cala Sanau is dotted with farmland where almond and carob trees grow and native breeds of sheep graze. If you continue walking you can follow the coast to Cala Estreta and you’ll go past the old ‘marés’ sandstone quarries along the cliffs.
If you’re travelling by bike, we recommend going from Cala Sanau along the Cala Ferrera road towards S’Horta. Before you reach the village take a little track that leads to Portocolom via Cala Brafi. It is a wonderful route. And for the most daring we recommend an energising dip in the calm transparent waters of any of these coves. Even though the water is still cold, taking a swim at this time of year has been shown to have many health benefits.
The Can Marines path takes you to the little village of S’Horta passing by fields of almond and carob trees, flocks of sheep with the sound of the birds in the air. From there you can continue to the “Els Horts” area and walk through orchards with the Santueri Castle watching over you in the distance.
Another lovely walk starts in Es Carritxó and takes us via Binifarda to the Santueri Castle with spectacular views over Mallorca’s southeast coast. You can see Portocolom, Portopetro, Cala d’Or and with the help of binoculars even your hotel. You can also enjoy beautiful views of the Sant Salvador monastery.
We highly recommend visiting our district during the flowering of the almond blossom so that you can experience it in person. Our Inturotel Esmeralda Villas Freestyle are the perfect option for enjoying it all at your own peace even before our hotels open their doors for the season.
All of us at the Inturotel team look forward to your visit and hope you have a wonderful holiday.