Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On ever-spinning reel
Alan and Marilyn Bergman
I don't think this is the kind of windmill Alan had in mind as a prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday, but I couldn't resist. It's little Me, aged four, on holiday at Chapel St. Leonard's, on the Lincolnshire coast. One of the joys of a seaside holiday was making sandcastles, into which we stuck little paper flags purchased for the purpose. At the same time we would always buy these paper windmills to whirr round in harmony with the flags, fluttering in the sea breeze. Seeing this picture again, I'm reminded of how much childish pleasure we had from some of the simple things in life.
My Father would have taken this photo, and in later life he used his eye for composition as an amateur artist. They aren't the best examples of his work, and are more like sketches, but you can view four of his windmills on Flickr here. Since his death last November every shred of memory has become more precious to me. The quality matters not a jot; what is important is that these are his brushstrokes.
Lanzarote is known as the windy island and it's ideally suited for windmills of all kinds. Before tourism took over here in the seventies, the island was largely agricultural. I've written before about the wonderful museum at El Patio, which during the mid 1840s had been the largest developed farm on the island. These days it still produces wines and cheeses, but the windmills stand silent and one even has no sails attached. The picture here, on display at the museum, shows how it may have looked in its heyday. There are still camels, and donkeys on the farm, as well as goats, hens and other animals. It's worth clicking the link above just to get a flavour of the place if you haven't seen it before.
I've also told you about architect of the island, artist and visionary, César Manrique, who designed many of Lanzarote's attractions. At his Jardin de Cactus, carved from a quarry, stands a magnificent windmill, from which can be enjoyed panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Again, the sails are stationary, but the windmill itself is something of a landmark and can be spotted from a long distance.
There are stumps of windmills all over the island; the policy here is never to knock down an old building, and although some are in a delapidated state, they stand as a monument to Lanzarote's agricultural past.
Salt used to be extracted from the sea and exported all over the world, as well as being used to preserve the fish caught on longer fishing expeditions. Post WW2 refrigeration meant that there was less demand and the island's many salt pans fell into disuse, leaving the windmills, once used to power extraction, as ghostly sentinels watching over the old salt fields.
At Janubio salt is still harvested and here we see the old technology in a strange juxtaposition against the very modern wind farms which are insidiously creeping across the landscape.
Salt was once an important industry to the island, but has now gone the way of agriculture and is dissolving into the past.
Manrique also harnessed the power of the wind to create magnificent 'wind mobiles' located at strategic sites across the island. Twenty years ago last September he was killed in a road accident near his home and on the anniversary of his death one of his mobiles, newly-restored, was installed at his former home. The excellent Lanzarote Information produced a very short video on that date, where you can see not only the mobiles, but also his wonderful home, now an art gallery and visitors' centre.
Here are my own attempts at making the most of our breezes. My mobile is not up to Manrique's standards though. Now, I suddenly feel the desire to see some paper windmills whizzing round in our windy Lanzarote garden. Of course they can be bought for a euro or two but how much more fun to make your own. When you've finished cutting and sticking, take your own creation over to Sepia Saturday to see what everyone else made of the prompt. If you like all things sepia, or just old pictures and ephemera, why not join our Facebook group too? Even more fun than making paper windmills!