Marcus Aurelius Antoninus He was born into an upper-class Roman family in the year 121 AD and was later adopted by the Emperor Antoninus Pius, whom he succeeded in 161. A scholar of Philosophy since his youth, was especially influenced by the first-century Stoic thinker Epictetus. His reputation as a great emperor-philosopher is based on his intimate diaries, Meditations, written during the last years of his life and never intended for formal publication.
He Stoicism has burst strongly into our time, since the 21st century shares many vicissitudes and difficulties with Late Antiquity. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a work of incredible intellectual depth and for many it is the best manual ever written on how to live serenely. At the beginning of Book IV, Marcus Aurelius says the following: “Some seek country, sea, or mountain retreats for themselves, and you too have become accustomed to desiring such things above all. But this is the most foolish thing there is, since it is possible for you at any moment to withdraw into yourself. Well, the human being cannot retreat to any place more peaceful and calm than that which is in the soul., which he has within himself…” If Marcus Aurelius were alive today he would surely be astonished by the long queues that form to ascend Everest or by the consumerist trend of going to Iceland or northern Norway to take a selfie with a halo boreal in the background, because in the times in which we live, for many people, their personal enjoyment makes sense to the extent that others find out that they are enjoying it. But Marcus Aurelius criticizes those “who pursue the praise of those who applaud, people who neither know where they are nor who they are.” He would surely tell us that We don’t have to go so far, we can enjoy those small and close pieces of nature that go unnoticed for many people, since “the key to a good life is encrypted in very little.” The natural world is a great school where the trivial becomes the extraordinary.
In an interview that appeared in a well-known magazine, Andy Warhol stated that he preferred the city to the countryside, “because in the city there are pieces of the countryside, but in the countryside there are no pieces of the city.”». And indeed if we look around us we will see that wildlife is not absolutely banished from the hostile urban environment. In the city vital interstices, minimal oases, a wild, spontaneous and bastard nature survive, a lumpen-nature, as the naturalist and writer Fernando Parra would say. This flora and fauna of the plots, tree pits, roofs and open fields is nourished by organisms that are found almost anywhere in the world, since their distribution is linked to that of man. Are the cosmopolitan and opportunistic species, such as dandelions, cockroaches or rats. Among the pioneer plants, nitrophilous and ruderal, there is one that stands out because right now it paints the empty spaces, ditches, roadsides and recently disturbed earth. It arrived from the Cape of Good Hope, in South Africa, and has managed to survive on its own in different areas of the planet. Its first appearance in Europe took place in Malta, in 1806, progressively spreading to other areas of the Mediterranean. In Spain, according to the botanist Carlos Pau, it appeared for the first time in 1850, and today it is abundant in all the coastal regions, especially the Mediterranean, and in both archipelagos, penetrating into the interior of the Peninsula through the Guadalquivir valley.
Oxalis-pes-caprae is a false funnel-shaped flower clover that is locally known by the significant name of vinaigrette, due to the acidic flavor that results from nibbling on the base of its juicy stem. It is also known as dormilón or dream flower, probably because of the ability to close its flowers when night comes. This plant can be used as a weather forecaster, since, apart from closing at dusk, if it senses that a storm is approaching it will also close; and if it remains sealed on a cloudy day it is very possible that it will rain.
The tenacity of the vinaigrette has made it plague of vineyards and olive groves. These crops seem to favor it, since in the work carried out to eliminate weeds, plowing only extends its territories, as it separates, disperses and buries the numerous bulblets it produces. In Spain, due to its colonizing potential and constitutes a serious threat to native specieshabitats or ecosystems, this species has been included in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Exotic Species. However, Marcus Aurelius believes that “almost no thing is strange with reference to another, since they are arranged together and adorned in harmony with the universe itself.”
The month of the stork
Everyone has heard the well-known saying “through San Blas the stork you will see”, but the truth is that, at least today, 80% of adult storks give up the long journey and stay with us all year round. It doesn’t matter. In popular culture, storks will always be linked to the saint that was celebrated on February 3, when the return of these birds was experienced as a festival in many places in Spain.
The reason that At the end of summer the storks would undertake those long journeys, to Senegal, Mali or Mauritania, it was due to lack of food; but these mosquitoes have learned to take advantage of resources that we humans provide. During the cold months, when grasshoppers and beetles, which are their favorite foods, are scarce, storks They go to eat at urban waste dumps and rice fields, thus saving themselves from having to make a dangerous trip, where many of them perished. Young birds, however, still migrate towards the Sahel following their instinct. In four or five years of life, they will have already discovered that migration is not worth the risk. Experience ends up imposing itself on genetics.
Whether or not they come from distant and warm places, the fact is that in the month of February many of our towns become a spectacle with the comings and goings of the storks to bring branches to the nest they rebuild, while they emit a characteristic noise with their beak that ornithologists call crotoreo, and remind us of Machado’s verses: “The storks inhabit their beautiful nests and write their white scribbles on the towers.”