Surrounded by Rocks: An Exploration Series, Introduction and Chapter 1

Nightjar has been working hard on a new series for us which is making its debut today. We’ll be posting a new chapter every other day, which will include weekends, so be sure to check in often because you won’t want to miss a single post. The first chapter is about trees which makes Tuesday the right day to begin, so I invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy exploring a bit of Portugal with Nightjar.


This series was inspired by both Ice Swimmer’s “Harakka Island” series (starting here)  and a post by rq on the Macedonian rocks that made her homesick, here. . I have no islands nearby to visit but I do have hills with rocks. In fact, I live between two hills that are very different from each other and both mean a lot to me, bringing childhood memories of fossil and rock hunting with my family and childhood friends. I do not go up the hills as often as I used to, but they really aren’t far from home and an afternoon is more than enough to explore one of them. In a November afternoon I went East and had fun among limestone. In a December afternoon I went West and had fun among phyllites and quartz. And yes, my pockets were heavy on my way back home. I can’t resist it. But let’s start our journey… let’s go East!

Chapter 1 – East Hill: trees alive and dead

Going up the hill it’s easy to notice that we are in a harsh environment. Vegetation is sparse due to an acidic, dry and constantly eroding soil. Maritime pines, well adapted to limestone substrates and to summer droughts, rule the landscape.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

But they don’t resist forever and can’t grow very tall here. Dead pines are part of the landscape too.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

The signs of weathering and erosion are quite evident on this side of the hill, with small “gullies” formed by rainwater. A small olive tree is trying to grow in the middle of the gullies. Good luck, little olive tree, may your roots grow strong enough to hold you there for many years.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

In the next chapter we will see the rocks uphill being eroded into those little fragments that make up the gullies, and we will hunt for crystals!

Thanks, Nightjar.



  1. Ice Swimmer says

    Beautiful rugged terrain. The pines resonate with me, both alive and dead, green and taking in the sun and gray, having become snag.

    I think these pictures reinforce the idea that the only thing a pine needs plenty of is sunshine, everything else can be scarce.

  2. Nightjar says

    In that case I think you will like the next two chapters, rq. :)

    Ice Swimmer,

    the only thing a pine needs plenty of is sunshine, everything else can be scarce

    Yes, that’s an excellent way to put it!
    Also, I should mention that those aren’t all maritime pines (Pinus pinaster), there are a few stone pines (Pinus pinea) in there as well. I used to go there to harvest pine nuts with my grandparents.

  3. Nightjar says

    Giliell, I like that contrast too, but when I took that photo I wanted to zoom out a bit to include more of the branches. Except I didn’t because I was shooting with the 50mm and didn’t want to change lenses just for that photo. I think my love for prime lenses combined with my laziness for changing lenses is becoming counterproductive.


    Speaking of rooting for trees, how is you persimmon doing, Charly? :)

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