Here comes Autumn in Soller

Have you got your bow and arrow? Did you know that the rules have changed and that from last Friday you can now use it together with a shotgun to hunt the partridge? Serious consideration has been given to this subject over the summer and an illustrious group of experts decided that this traditional form of hunting that was already allowed in Minorca could now be used here. The Soller valley resounds to the sound of shooting at set times of the day between 12th October and January 31st. The guidelines are very strict and allow the use of guns,bows and arrows and yarn traps to hunt. The rules restrict the number of thrushes that can be caught in a day to sixteen per hunter.

The ‘golden bowl’ in which we live is a valley surrounded on three sides by the mountains of the Tramuntana. The sound of shooting in the valley ricochets the mountains and it is a sound that punctuates weekend afternoons. The shooting parties gather at the local bars planning their day and piling their cars with the refreshments that sustain their efforts in the mountains. The bars that open early to see everyone to work during the week do the same at weekends for the hunters. This is a part of the Soller life that I find hard to comprehend. My city roots try very hard not to judge as I know that rural life is different but I do feel sorry for the tiny birds. We watch wonderful displays of migrating birds swooping in our skies and then urge them to get the hell out of here before they are shot!

Another bird story is a bit more encouraging this week. The population of peregrine falcons (Falco eleonorae) in the Serra de Tramuntana has been restored to the level it was a decade ago before there was a sharp decline. The head count conducted in September by a huge group of volunteers and naturalists counted over 500. They found 29 colonies of breeding falcons on the Island many living round the coast but most in the mountains. Maybe these guys laugh at the bows and arrows and yarn traps – they know they just have to soar above and open their wings to scare the life out of any would be hunter.

The hunting of the goat is another sport of the mountain.. You are not allowed to shoot a goat with a bell round it’s neck but apart from that it is open season. I am told that the culling of goats is encouraged to reduce the numbers around. My neighbours bring their catch back to the house and proceed to skin it in the garden. This was one of the sights I never expected to see in my life and the dog goes crazy with the smells next door. Another autumn joy of living in rural Soller.

Autumn brings hobbies, cooking, log fires and rain and it is all such a pleasure. Soller square twinkles in the dark as the nights draw in and takes on its next season and makes plans for Halloween.We are never more than four weeks away from another fiesta or celebration and the build up has started towards Christmas. Suffice it to say that the melancholy that Autumn brings is given its due time – a couple of weeks of reflection and then on to the next celebration. This for me is the comfort of village life, the idea that to everything there really is a season.

The Mayor of Soller is under pressure and every week another story comes out that has our Soller friends shaking their head in disbelief over the state of local politics. At the last elections the sorry tale of the town swimming pool was a big issue. The Son Angelats Sports Centre was built and opened three years ago – at least the sports hall was. The beautiful, indoor, heated pool was never opened to the public. The Mayor and others made promises about what they would do to resolve the problems of the pool if they were elected. Well this could be the good news story of the week. The build up has begun and the spin doctors are spinning. A date for the opening has been announced. The Mayor has said that the pool will be open to the public on 1st November 2012. A wonderful Autumn gift to the people of Soller. How very exciting.

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