1. dot: purple
see 1st picture at the end of the post. why can't I insert it? Is this editor so stupid? Or am I?
I would like to present my country to you, using pointillist style, so with lots of coloured dots, only in writing. Because I think painting with dots can be terribly boring. Writing is much more interesting. (but I might try it some day:), and you will be the subjects of that experiment, too.
Each article will present a landscape, a place, associated with a colour.
Totally subjective, whatever colour I feel that place is.
Today’s spot colour: purple.
And it happens to be not subjective.
So, let’s get it:
Once upon a time… well, no, for 1000 years there has been a small country in the middle of Europe. It is small and hardly known, if you talk about it, you talk about football or politics. Sometimes you talk about Ferenc Puskás, sometimes about revolution, lately, if you watch the political news, (I advise you not to), sometimes about autocracy.
But it is a nice little country, with lots of colourful dots.
I just know, I was born there.
And in this small country there is a beautiful lavender plantation. Of course, in size it can not compete with the French ones, but in quality it can!
see 2nd picture below
Lavender is a medicinal plant known since antiquity in Europe, (it is an excellent antiseptic, recommended also by Pedanius Dioscorides, an ancient Greek physician), herb, (subjectively: it tastes great), but it was also used int he ’beauty industry’ as an employee, responsible for the good fragrances.
I think it must be planted because it is simply beautiful.
In Europe, it first lived in monastery gardens, later moved out and spread everywhere.
It is no coincidence, that here, in Hungary, the oldest monastery is the one where the monks grow it. But every year, at harvest time, the fair is open, anyone can enter, pick, buy and play. In a lavender scent.
This is the founding document of the monastery, from 1055. Its patron saints are Szent Ányos (Saint Agnan) and Virgin Mary. Pardon, I should have mentioned the lady first. (You know the latter, the former was the bishop of Orléans, and there is a tradition of venerating him in France. Nobody knows, how his veneration came to Hungary.:)
No, that’s enough, the colour of the monastery is not purple. So, I stop this now, and will tell you about monasteries in Hungary in an other article. But I don’t know yet, what colour the dot will be.
The large, plantation-like cultivation of lavender was started by a hungarian chemist int he 1920s.
I think, it would be completely unnecessary to write down his name, you wouldn’t remember it anyway:) and, anyway, it’s enough for me if the smell of purple comes to mind from Hungary, I don’t wish you to learn any other tongue-twisting names besides Ferenc Puskás.
But for those, who wish, I will gladly give the not only the name, but also the Hungarian version of the article, I will be happy to distribute and teach my mother tongue at any time. But, unfortunately, the Hungarian language is not undestood anyone, but us. No one undestands it, no one undestands it, no one wants to learn it… (this is a quote from an old Hungarian band. Sorry, but I don’t know the genre, I am perfectly tone-deaf.)
I think that’s a great paragraph, somehow I will include it in every article about Hungary. Advertising is important, isn’t it?
So, back to purple scents:
At the time of planting, bitter almond trees were planted among the lavender rows, (for now, Hungary is the northern limit of bitter almond tree cultivation, but who knows, what climate change will bring?) based on the traditions of the landscape. Some old trees still remain, giving the plantations a particularly unique atmosphere.
I have chosen the picture above, as an introduction, so that you can also see it, even if you don’t want to or can’t visit the abbey.
But I also show you a less bucolic picture anyway. A bit prosaic, I didn’t want to start with that, you might be disappointed:)
Despite all the political rumours, the country is not scary. At most, politics doesn’t smell in purple, but in some unpleasant colour, but you don’t read that anyway. :)
If you can gather all your courage, and decide to visit lavender, it’s worth doing it from mid-June.
I will give you a map for that:)
The essential oil content of lavender here is higher than that of French lavender, thanks to the specific microclimate.
There are about 39 varieties of lavender in the world, but in Hungary only the French lavender (lavandula dentata) and the English lavender (lavandula angustifolia) are planted. The latter has a higher essential oil content and therefore a much stronger fragrance, while the former, - but this is my personal opinion, - is more beautiful. It has a pale silvery tinge and a deeper purple colour than English lavender.
Still, though with my nose turned up halfway, I have to admit that I do have to talk a bit about politics. Unfortunately, it is important.
Because after the 2nd World War, Hungary was occupied by the Soviets and communism was introduced. In name only, of course, in practice it was mostly destruction.
The famous lavender field was also ruined, because no one took care of it.
Then, perhaps you have heard something about it, in the countries of the Eastern Bloc, regime change happened and the occupying Soviet troops withdrew. Some countries were left earlier, some were left a little later, Hungary was left forever in 1991.
And this was good not only for the country, but also for the purple-scented lavender field. They started taking care of it again, planted new plants, and now the area shines and smells in its old purple at harvest time.
In order to shine in its full glory, lavender needs only 3 years, so the planting itself didn't take much time, but it took more and more dedicated work and faith.
However, a lavender bush can live for 40-50 years.
In the old lavender plantation, where bushes that had survived neglect, have been carefully preserved, there are also 80-years old specimens.
And then a few words about the lavender products:
Practically anything can be made from lavender, except, among other things tyres, glasses or teapots. But a teapot with a lavender pattern? Oh, yes!:)
However, in our country, the abbey processes lavender and, as traditional-minded people, they insist on using lavender in the traditional style.
So they make, above all, lavender chocolate! I don't think I am the only one, who thinks that by far this product should be mentioned first.
Then they make lavender liqueur. Or maybe it should have been mentioned first?
And then they make lavender syrup. That is also important! :)
Also, because I think monks not only like their bellies, but they also like to be beautiful, like everyone else, so they thought of making lavender water, lavender oil and, not to forget health, tiny lavender sachets to help in sleeping.
Lavender water is a skin conditioner, gently disinfects, non-irritating, cleansing and soothing. And it does much more, but as this is not an advertising article dealing with cosmetic products, I won't go into detail, search for it.
Lavender oil cand do the same and much more, but it's much more powerful than lavender water, only to be used diluted.
And the lavender pillow, by promoting deep and restful sleep, is one of the best helper to a smooth face.
Oh, yes, let me not forget, they also make a soothing lavender tea blend that also promotes sleep. It's called "Béke az érkezőknek". That is, perhaps, "Peace to the newcomers"
It smells delicious, and the taste... with a little honey... well, you'd better try it, because I can't tell you anyway.
Today's lavender purple fairy tale has gone so far.
Next time... I don't know what colour I'll choose next.
But, you can vote, if you like.
All ideas are welcome, but I'll decide anyway:)
By the way, a little addition for those who don't like lavender but love football. Hungary has a purple and white football team, Újpest FC. Unfortunately, I have no idea what made them purple. They are not as successful as Toulouse FC, but they are just as enthusiastic purple.