Saturday, April 29, 2017

Poppies, People and Purchases

As I sit down to write this week's blog I realize that things once noteworthy are now just part of our new normal. For example, the other night we took a walk and the church bells were ringing across the valley but only after a number of clongs did I really hear them as something extraordinary. The views continue to thrill us, but we comment less frequently with amazement that we actually live here. This is certainly home now and I think we will believe that completely when we return from our trip to the States this summer. I have always wondered how expats feel when they return home, from their old home - which feels more like home? I'll be sure to let you know in September.

The poppies are in full bloom up and down the mountain. They began several weeks ago at the lower elevations, but now we have bright red blossoms punctuating our green fields and rock walls. I am thrilled by each bloom; they appear in the morning and then the petals drop off by evening, to be replaced by new blooms the next day. When I walked the Camino de Santiago in 2015 I wondered if I had taken a photo of every poppy in northern Spain. I could not get enough of them. And so it fills me with joy to have poppies here on our property. 
One of our own poppies

Last week we took the drive down to Ferreirola and this time there were fields of poppies where I had stopped to take almond blossom photos back in February. And not only poppies, but a mix of wildflowers arranged more artistically than if they had been intentionally planted. The colorful purple, white, red and yellow flowers are stunning against the broken stone walls of crumbling terraces and ruined Cortijos. 

What could be more lovely?

Wildflower canvas

We have enjoyed several social gatherings in the past few weeks. One would think that living in an isolated location might affect our social life, and it has, but only to make it more active than when we lived in Oregon. Friendships are essential when we go days without seeing anyone but each other, and connecting with people is part of what we have enjoyed most here. 

Two weeks ago we got together with a British friend who we first met in March of 2016 on the day that got this entire adventure started. He had come to the Sierra Nevada for a few days of winter skills training and we enjoyed his company while snowshoeing, and have stayed in touch over the past year. This time he returned to Lanjarón for some hiking and scrambling days with Spanish Highs Mountain Guides and we met up for drinks and tapas one evening with a group of expat friends. Several days later we enjoyed hosting him for lunch here at home; it was fun to show someone around and have him recognize things from what I have shared on the blog; (thanks Stewart for your enthusiastic interest and friendship.)

The day we met Stewart (second from the right) in 2016- Photo credit: Kiersten Spanish Highs Mountain Guides

We attended a lively afternoon barbeque with another group of friends at a home between here and Órgiva. That day our neighbors took their puppy along so that she could visit with her sister, adopted by other friends, and it was fun watching the two happy labs playing for hours. Part of what we notice is the ease of gatherings; everyone contributes food and drink, kids and pets are usually welcome, and the entire group comfortably visits for hours with no one needing to hurry off. 

Puppy siblings with endless energy

Another day we went to a birthday party for a one year old who lives a few kilometers down the hill from us; that day the group ranged in age from the one year old to a couple in their seventies, and one neighbor arrived by horseback. The buffet included British favorites of meat pies, sausage rolls, scones and trifle.

Baby's first birthday

The neighbor's Spanish Water Dog came to the party

Most recently we hosted some neighbors for our first bi-lingual gathering. One couple (and their kids) did much of the translating and the conversation flowed easily. I enjoyed preparing a selection of Spanish and Italian dishes, and it was clear as the evening went on that good food and friendship are a common language.

Good friends in any language

This kid!

We continue to acquire odds and ends; tools and appliances that replace things we sold or gave away in the States. Since arriving here in August we have looked for an outdoor table and last week we found just what we wanted. We needed something large enough for entertaining, and heavy enough to withstand the strong winds that thrash the mountainside from time to time. 

We found the perfect table at AlCampo in Motril and planned to fit it in, or on, our car. As soon as the man brought the boxed table out on a trolley we knew that we needed another plan. It weighed so much that I was useless in lifting it and we quickly asked about delivery. For only 15 euro more they would deliver it to us a few days later. We adjusted our plans and called our gracious neighbor so that he could work out a delivery location for us. Two days later the table was delivered to the carpenter's shop in Soportújar, gracious neighbor picked it up in his truck, and somehow he and Sam managed to carry it to the patio. Now assembled it will remain in the same location for years to come!

Marble tiles make this table very heavy

Sam's latest purchase was a DVD player promised to play U.S. and European DVDs (did you know there is a difference?) The player arrived and we drove to Órgiva to pick it up. Sam opened the box and discovered that the player had a plug for the UK - gracious neighbor provided an adaptor so that we could plug it in won't play U.S. DVDs (we shipped numerous DVDs from the States). We did not receive the player we thought we had purchased so now we need to begin the elaborate process of returning the player.

On the other hand I am very happy with my new mixer. We bought it from a small appliance shop in Órgiva. The man took the mixer out of the box, plugged it in to show me how it worked, and then demonstrated how to release the beaters and finally he carefully repackaged the whole thing. Perhaps we paid a few euros more than we might have at the mega Media Mart store in Granada, but it was satisfying to support the local merchant and his attention was worth the extra cost. 

I get a silly joy from having European appliances. Each time I plug something in without an adaptor I am that much more settled into my life here. 

It is little things that bring us smiles throughout our simple days. 

Life is good.

I love this village house


  1. The poppies are so magnificent here in Greece too! I love your posts. Seems you made a very wise choice and life looks really good.

    1. Laura, thanks so much for your kind comment and for following along. Poppies in Greece sounds over-the-top!

  2. Tulips in bloom here, the Skagit Valley is alive with red, yellow, purple, pink and mixed colors. Lifts my spirits to walk the fields among all the fleeting pops of color. Thinking they, and your poppies so brilliant in red, are made to remind us spring is here and hope is alive, no matter where we live.

    1. "Hope is alive!" Thanks for that. You are correct and I am so pleased that you are enjoying spring color where you are. <3

  3. Love your writing as always. You both always loved the mountain and now the mountain just adopted you!

    1. Thank you Pedro. I appreciate your following the blog. Can't wait to see you and to explore your part of the world!

  4. Here in Salem we are far removed from last year weather, it is still cold and wet and flowers are not easily blooming...Still enjoy gardening and my small greenhouse is such a big help... but nevertheless I do envy you a bit... Love, Carlo