It’s taken a while to have another opportunity to go up La Retaia again, or maybe it was the memory of the steep climb, but we finally went today: Me, Elijah and Charlie, who’s artist in residence here at the moment. It was a last minute decision, influenced by a sunny morning, so we didn’t get going till 11.30, but this time it only took 6 hours, instead of 7. Only one bit of backtracking because we explored a different route to come down, which took us through nice oak forest.
There are many relics of stonework in the forest – old walls and retaining walls.
Apart from cooler weather, the other delight this time was seeing all kinds of little flowers sprinkling the ground: Sternbergias in dense little patches, perhaps planted – they often seemed to be around junction points. Perhaps with their bright colour they are help walkers find these places and take note. There were also different kinds of Crocus and Colchicum, and plenty of little Cyclamens. They have all come up since the rain and it’s nice to see them flowering before the winter sets in.
The leaves only have the faintest hint of turning, but the blackberries are virtually over, as are the figs and walnuts, though I managed to find one of the latter, and a few really sweet, delicious figs.
No signs of lizards on this cool day, but there were metallic beetles all over the place, plenty of ants, and also a metallic centipede. Not many birds either, but there are always hunters on this mountain – the last section of climb, from the plateau to the summit seems to be open to hunters, though most of the rest has no hunting signs up. We did see some kind of small raptor though, and an immature pheasant down at the bottom edge of the forest. Plenty of ravens talking in the trees though they are hard to see.
We came down to the north west of Prato, and skirted along the mountain, between the forest and the olive groves, on the way back, looking at autumn smoke rising and sunrays coming down across the valley.
Olives and pear tree.