Hos in Spain

On cultivating our garden.

Despite 20 years of European money, Spain still has a way to go before it resolves that cancer on the nation’s soul, the chronic spade shortage. Spade ownership is an important index of social development, spades being required by horticulturalists and then again at a later stage by the gardening middle classes. Travellers’ accounts of pre-modern Spain often mention the miserable state of Spanish agricultural technology (there are several interesting references in this astounding collection of Flemish soldiers’ letters from the Napoleonic era), and, strangely, Spain is still by and large stuck with hoes and shovels, and the language does not–dear me!–even have a separate word for “spade”.

No Spanish author would dream writing anything along the lines of All my hurts/My garden spade can heal, and the occasional reference in Spanish literature glorifies the sword over the hoe in a way that would have horrified Thoreau:

The weapons with which we have gained our most important victories, which should be handed down as heirlooms from father to son, are not the sword and the lance, but the bushwhack, the turf-cutter, the spade, and the bog hoe, rusted with the blood of many a meadow, and begrimed with the dust of many a hard-fought field.

Strange, then, that Spain has chosen not to be part of the Ho-Land coalition.

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    Vaguely re this post, here is something which South Africans apparently find amusing. Hmm…

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