Last Sunday we got up early to meet Manuel for another hike. This time he promised no steep ascents or descents - instead we were going to walk along the acequia (irrigation ditch) to Puente Palo. I knew as I got dressed that I was coming down with something, but I wanted to hike so I didn't mention it to Sam.
Manuel was waiting for us when we walked up to the gate just before 8 am. The sunrise was especially spectacular, indicating a change in the weather.
We drove up the mountain to the lookout tower and stopped to check for mushrooms under the oaks there. We stood at the fire lookout and watched as the sun rose over the mountains to the East and as the rays started to sparkle on the surface of the Mediterranean.
|View from the fire lookout|
Then we drove on a little bit, parked the truck and began our hike.
The route is lovely, and gentle as promised. The oak forests were at the peak of yellow brilliance and here and there golden poplars punctuated the view. Manuel pointed out several varieties of oaks, some that keep their leaves year round, and he told us the Latin name for each.
|Yellow and gold hillside|
We learned which oaks have the tastiest acorns and when we passed a very large and old tree, he hugged it. His excitement for these mountains is contagious and we found ourselves reflecting his joy as we walked.
|A true "tree-hugger"|
Blues (the dog) was with us and he kept busy sniffing the many places where wild boar had recently churned up the ground. It was a pleasant walk and by noon we were back at the truck.
|Walking along the acequia|
|Fantastic views and interesting clouds|
By Sunday evening there was no doubt that I was sick. The bubbly ears and scratchy throat could no longer be ignored. The weather changed overnight and Monday and Tuesday brought lots of rain. It was cozy inside our house with the wood stove going. At our house in Oregon we were more aware of the weather. We could hear the rain beating against the windows and at times when the wind was strong, it was as if the entire house shook. In our stone house here, the wind can blow and we are not aware of it at all. I like the solid feeling that the thick stone walls provide.
|The view from our living room this week. Isn't this a perfectly shaped tree?|
On Wednesday the weather cleared and we were greeted by a snow line only a few hundred meters higher than our house. Mulhacén was magnificent - blindingly white against the deep blue sky.
We knew that snow was forecast for later in the week so decided to take advantage of the clearing to go out and stock up on groceries. The road down the mountain was not as eroded as we had feared after the heavy rains, but perhaps our expectations have just been lowered. We stopped in Orgiva for mail and a few materials at the hardware store, then went half way to Granada to the Mercadona supermercado. We loaded the cart and, nearly 200 euro later, were back in the car headed for home. I was drugged up and not feeling too badly, so we stopped in Lanjaron for some lunch and re-stocked on cough drops and ibuprofen at the Farmacia.
|The view from our road coming home on Wednesday. Our property is down the hill to the right.|
Thursday was Thanksgiving. Turkeys do not seem to be readily available here, but I had purchased a chicken at the Mercadona and managed to put together a festive meal of roasted chicken and vegetables. We enjoyed a quiet day - the only Americans on the mountain, so a holiday all our own.
This has been our longest spell of dreary weather. The break mid-week was welcome, but for the most part we have had a week of rain and fog and grey. The land here needs the moisture and the ski area opened today with so many excited about the snow in the Sierras. I am reminded of the long winters in Oregon and am ready to wake up to bright sunshine and blue skies. We run the generator each day because there has not been any solar power to charge the batteries. We worry about how long the wood supply will last, but recognize that once the sun returns, and I am healthy again, we will not keep the fire going all day long.
|A break in the rain today and we went out to our yard to admire the colors.|
We think of friends and family; this week Sam's mother turned 92 and a dear friend celebrates 85 today. Some of the kids were together for Thanksgiving while another worked, and the fourth is contemplating a move. Life moves on "at home," and we watch from afar. We hold our families and our friends close in our hearts, while voicing our gratefulness for this time in our lives. We are thankful to be here now and we look forward to every opportunity to share this experience with others.