I go walking over a path running atop a stone wall that winds endlessly through the mountainous landscape of the Formentor peninsula. On this Camí Vell de Far people had, in former times, reached the lighthouse at the north cape of Majorca – as the path is even, they probably rode on donkeys or mules to that point. As I walk, I imagine myself as a guard of old, packing goods atop the beasts of burden: they had loaded them with olives and cheese, bread and sausages, tobacco, lots of wine, and warm blankets.
Now, I take a break on the north-eastern slope of the Fumat mountain. Next to me, the rock falls vertically to the sea; I hear the sound of it hitting the stony shore far below me. In front of me, a small pine tree clings to a crumbling rock. There are a striking number of pine trees on this tongue of land. Only a few look as skinny as the small fellow before me but, of course, all of them are scarred by wind and weather. Each tree is somewhat different in shape from the others because each one stands in its own place. These pine trees inspired the Majorcan priest and writer Miquel Costa i Llobera (1854-1922), whose family is said to have owned land in the region, to pen a poem that is reputed to be the incunabulum of the Catalonian romantic period. «My heart loves a tree! Older than the olive, stronger than the oak, greener than the orange tree, he retains in his leaves the eternal spring. And thereby he fights with the storms that hammer the coasts and make the soil creak. […] God gave it the rough mountain as land and the infinite sea as fountain. […] Tree, my heart envies you. On this impure soil I keep the memory of you as a holy promise. Constantly fight and win, rule over the heights, nurture yourself and live from the sky and pure light. Oh life! Oh noble destiny!»
I certainly cannot follow the poet right up to the farthest corner of his ardour. But my heart, too, envies this small pine tree that has forced his roots into the flaky rock. I do not envy its life, just the way it leads its life – as though it is the most natural thing in the world, and this the only right place.
First Publication: 9-3-2015