Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Itisitis and giant bonsais!

It seems that almost everyone can have an ...itis. Tonsillitis, laryngitis, appendicitis. I have chronic dermatitis and a friend of mine went to see her doctor with a pain in her wrist, only to be told it was tendonitis. You would have thought she could have worked that out as she is a qualified doctor herself. Maybe it's hard to diagnose yourself! 

Anyway, yesterday I came across a new ...itis. In a magazine at the hairdressers, I read about an ailment common in the summer time when so many of us are in and out of the swimming pool or the sea: otitis. Yes, otitis! Is that even a real ailment? Is it not just a fancy name for ear-ache? I'm going with the latter. However, the spell check on my computer has accepted the word without a blink and, more importantly, without red underlining! If you are not careful to dry your ears when you get out of the water, you can end up with ear-ache. Or otitis! Just imagine, someone wrote a half-page article all about this?! 

One solution offered for otitis was the following: gently warm up a little olive oil, soak it up with a blob of cotton wool and put the warm, oil-soaked blob in your ear. The warmth will give you some relief. I knew that already. That's what my mother used to do all those years ago when I was a small child. And there it is as a recommendation in a women's magazine. Who would have thought it? 

My mother also used to rub warm olive oil on our chests and backs if we had a chesty cough and cold. In fact, throughout my childhood I believed olive oil was a medicinal thing. You bought it in tiny bottles from the chemist's shop. To this day, there are moments when the smell of olive oil heating up in a pan can whisk me back to childhood in one of those Proustian moments! 

Vigo is known as the "ciudad olívica", the city of the olive trees. In keeping with that name, in various places around the city, where they have been doing a bit of refurbishment work, such as along Rosalía de Castro street, small but mature olive trees have appeared in the last twelve months. On newly created small roundabouts or on certain street corners, there they are. 

To me they look like giant bonsais. Yes, I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms but bonsai trees always look like perfect miniatures of mature trees. They are cultivated to look like that. These trees on roundabouts have a similar quality. Often they have a fully mature trunk but they stand no more than about five feet tall and their branches and foliage appear to have been trimmed into a carefully selected shape. They could come off an old willow-pattern china tea set or be the artificial trees you buy to screw into electric train layouts. 

What amazes me is that somehow they have managed to transplant apparently mature trees into places where there were not trees before. I did not know that this was possible. I had always been given to believe that the root system prevented this from being able to take place. 

Obviously someone in the horticultural world has found a way round the problem. I am amazed!

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