The Year

Through the Year in Tarnava Mare

April

The Weather: Can be wet and cool during the day and cold at night

The first spring flowers brighten pastures and dry slopes. Yellow Pheasant’s-eye (Adonis vernalis), a striking medicinal plant, flowers in clumps mostly on south-facing slopes, as do miniature thickets of pink-flowered Dwarf Almond. Heath Dog-violets (Viola canina) dot pastures and Sweet Violets (V. odorata) flower in village gardens. Cattle, kept in warm barns through the winter, go out to pasture – to graze together as usually a village herd – but still return to the barn each evening, leaving for the pastures early each morning. Yellow-bellied toads and other amphibians emerge and can be seen in wet places. Swallows return and nest in and around the farm buildings.

Foods in season: Easter lamb, drob (lamb’s innards pudding)

Events: Lutheran and Orthodox Easters, 23 April – St George’s Day, patron saint of shepherds

May

The weather: Starting to get warmer during the day, but with some rain, cool at night

All of the grasslands are colourful from May onwards, when several orchids flower, for example Military Orchid, Green- winged Orchid and Three-toothed Orchid. Cowslips flower in massed profusion. On the steepest and driest slopes is a distinguished group of early flowers:Yellow Adonis, Leafless Iris, Montpellier Milk-vetch, Purple Mullein, Purple Viper’s-grass and the first of the wild sages. Nodding Sage (Salvia nutans), a tall handsome member of the mint family, grows on hot dry south-facing slopes. In gardens, pink and white peonies are magnificent. Thrush nightingales sing by day and night, golden orioles make their bell-like calls, and late afternoon is a chorus of crickets.

Foods in season: Rhubarb, poultry

Events: May Day, Whitsun

June

The Weather: Pleasantly warm during the day, getting warmer at night

Hay-meadows present a superb spectacle of wild flowers and dancing butterflies. The mix of colours derives from high species diversity, notably a variety of clovers, vetches and daisies. From a distance the massed cream heads of Dropwort, loose pink spikes of Sainfoin and blue splashes of Meadow Clary are particularly distinctive. At closer quarters the pale pink of Squinancywort, the yellow of Lady’s Bedstraw and long-stalked crimson-and-bronze heads of Charterhouse Pink, are conspicuous. Extensive areas are pale yellow with Hay-rattle (Rhinanthus rumelicus). Corncrakes rasp in long grass, quail call in the meadows, and colourful bee-eaters and shrikes adorn telephone wires.

Foods in season: Wild strawberry, mixed garden fruits, sour cherry, green walnut, poultry

Events: Hay harvest

July

The Weather: Hot during the day, warm at night

The grassland wild flowers and insect life remain colourful, with purplish-pink knapweeds and Zigzag Clover, splashes of blue Creeping Bellflower and Spiked Speedwell, yellow Lady’s Bedstraw and Agrimony, and some conspicuous umbellifers, Blue Eryngo, greenish-cream Field Eryngo and yellowish Longleaf. Telekia (Telekia speciosa), a plant named after 18th century Hungarian nobleman Samuel Teleki de Szek, attracts numerous butterflies along woodland edges. On warm evenings, Scops Owl calls with an almost metronomic note.

Foods in season: Garden strawberry, raspberry, dwarf blackberry, cherry plum or corcodus, gooseberry, blackcurrent, poultry

Events: Hay harvest

August

The Weather: Hot during the day, warm at night

Wild flowers are fewer but still provide fine spectacles. Wild Carrot colours pastures and waysides white, Wild Chicory (Cichorium intybus) colours fallow fields with great sheets of blue. Marsh Gentian and Great Burnet, with its numerous small magenta flower-heads that attract butterflies, bloom in damp meadows. Praying mantids stalk the grassland. Gypsies sell chanterelle fungi on roadsides.

Foods in season: Fungi, plum, pear, apple, quince, cornelian cherry, tomatoes, cucumbers, poultry

Events: Horse sale in Crits

The Saschiz Festival in mid August is an opportunity to taste fast Slow Food. Members of Slow Food Tarnava Mare prepare mutton stew which is served with traditional bread, cook pancakes and serve them with a range of jams and bake cookies using home grown fruit.

St Bartholomew’s Day Fair at Copsa Mare

September

The Weather: Hot during the day getting cooler at night

A new group of flowers appears, for example blue Fringed Gentian in dry pastures. The most conspicuous early autumn flower is Meadow Saffron or Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale), splashing damper meadows with great patches of lilac. These often grow where orchids and cowslips flower in spring. This is the last great floral display of the year, attracting late-flying butterflies right into October. Higher up into the Carpathians, mauve Banat Crocus (Crocus banaticus) colours roadsides and meadows. Stout spiders spin webs and there are still plenty of insects about.

Foods in season: Plum, pear, apple, quince, walnuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, mutton

Events: Biertan hosts one of the most important Sachsentreffen or Saxon meetings each year in September

October

The Weather: Warm during the day getting cold at night

Although in early October there are still a few flowers to be seen, autumn tints of the woods and scrub replace the summer colour. The oaks turn bronze, the beeches russet, the field maples yellow, and the leaves and fruits of Spindle glow crimson in scrub and on woodland margins. The countryside fades to shades of brown, but beautifully lit by the autumn sun, often under blue skies. In the villages, the sheep, cows and other livestock come into the warm barns for the winter.

Foods in season: Plum, pear, apple, quince, rose hip, mutton

Events: Villagers are busy stowing away food for the winter; also making tsuica and palinca from plums and other autumn fruits

November

The Weather: Likely to be wetter or even first snow, cold at night

Animals are now in the barns, the rich food bounty of the countryside is stored in the cellars, and the village houses are warm and cosy. The countryside slows down; even the bears go into hibernation.

Foods in season: Sea buckthorn (harvested after the first frost), rose hip, pork

Events: -

December

The Weather: Wet or snowy, cold at night

Foods in season: Pork, home-made pickles

Events: 1 December – Romanian National Day (1918 annexation of Transylvania), 5 December – St Nicholas’s Day, Christmas

January

The Weather: One of the coldest months with snow and clear blue skies, daytime temperature may not be above zero

The winter landscape and villages recall old Flemish paintings. Bare woods and snow create a special backdrop, especially when rose-tinted in the early mornings. Even on a foggy day the countryside has a magical atmosphere.

Foods in season: Pork, home-made pickles

Events: New Year Holiday

February

The Weather: One of the coldest months with snow and clear blue skies, daytime temperature may not be above zero

Foods in season: Pork, home-made pickles

Events: -

March

The Weather: Getting a little less cold, more rain than snow

The countryside wakes up. Sheep go out to pasture towards the end of the month. Snowdrops emerge in woods and gardens.

Foods in season: Pork, Easter lamb, home-made pickles

Events: Lutheran and Orthodox Easters


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