The Very Name Of These
Streams - Neto, Arvo, Lese, Ampollina - Are Redolent Of Pastoral Life.
of them are stocked with trout; they meander in their upper reaches
through valleys grazed by far-tinkling
Flocks of sheep and goats and
grey cattle - the experiment of acclimatizing Swiss cattle has proved a
failure, I know not why - and their banks are brilliant with blossoms.
Later on, in the autumn, the thistles begin to predominate - the finest
of them being a noble ground thistle of pale gold, of which they eat the
unopened bud; it is the counterpart of the silvery one of the Alps. The
air in these upper regions is keen. I remember, some years ago, that
during the last week of August a lump of snow, which a goat-boy produced
as his contribution to our luncheon, did not melt in the bright sunshine
on the summit of Monte Nero.
From whichever side one climbs out of the surrounding lowlands into the
Sila plateau, the same succession of trees is encountered. To the
warmest zone of olives, lemons and carobs succeeds that of the
chestnuts, some of them of gigantic dimensions and yielding a sure
though moderate return in fruit, others cut down periodically as coppice
for vine-props and scaffoldings. Large tracts of these old chestnut
groves are now doomed; a French society in Cosenza, so they tell me, is
buying them up for the extraction out of their bark of some chemical or
medicine. The vine still flourishes at this height, though dwarfed in
size; soon the oaks begin to dominate, and after that we enter into the
third and highest region cf the pines and beeches.
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