Sunday, June 18, 2017

Quiet on the Mountain

It appears that things have calmed down among our small group of neighbors and it has been five days since we have had any water issues. We like it that way.

Beautiful color on a recent walk to check on the water source

Spain is in the midst of a heatwave and we have learned to embrace the long afternoon siesta time. Most days it is ill-advised to be outside between 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm. 

Temps this past week on the Iberian Peninsula

The loveliest time is after 9:00 when the sun has dipped below the hillside to our West but the sky stays light for another hour. We enjoy sitting outside in the cool dusk playing cards and listening to the sounds of nature closing down another day.

Cards at dusk

This is my last post from Spain for a few months. At the end of June we will return to the States to visit family and friends, to welcome our first grandchild, and to distribute many of the items we currently have in storage. We will also sell the car that we've kept there, now that it is clear that our home is in Spain.

In one sense this trip is a trip "back home," however, without our own house in the States, it doesn't really feel like going home. We look forward to visiting with friends and family, but it isn't a vacation either as we throw ourselves on the generosity of others while we accomplish a long list of must-dos.

With the on-going political disaster in the States and the daily reports of violence, injustices and gun deaths, from a distance it seems as if we are about to fly into the eye of a hurricane. Our love for friends and family draws us towards what would otherwise be a situation we would make an effort to avoid.

We are leaving just as the apricots and peaches are ripening. Chestnut trees are in full bloom and the pomegranates are starting to form. We have enjoyed generous crops of strawberries, cherries and mulberries; all from our own land.

Each night I talk to the peaches encouraging them to ripen before we leave

Looking forward to gathering chestnuts in autumn

Anticipating pomegranates in November

Today my blog has reached 6000 views. This astounds me as my intent originally was to share our lives with the few people "back home" who might find it interesting. 

I've discovered that the viewers do not include our children. I joked recently about all the attention we showered on the kids and how each piece of kindergarten artwork, every report card, found a place of honor on the refrigerator door, but they can't find time to read through a weekly write-up about our life in Spain. I suppose it shows their independence and lack of concern for us, and that is no-doubt a positive thing. Right?!

I am thankful for those of you who have found your way to the blog. I suspect that many readers come because of my announcement on Facebook of each new post, but I have readers from places where I do not have any acquaintances: the Philippines, Russia, Belgium, South Africa, Turkmenistan, and beyond. I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to read a post or two, and I welcome you into this window on our lives.

I will post once or twice from the United States to share our observations after a year away. Until then, thank you for the support and encouragement that I get from sharing our story with you.

Paz y hasta pronto.

One of the last remaining poppies of 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Bitter With the Better

We have entered the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer here on the mountain although the "lazy" part hasn't really started. Sam has spent nearly two weeks using his strimmer (weed eater) to cut the grass and weeds on our two hectares (five acres). I'm certain that most will wonder why he doesn't mow it, but the land is quite uneven, and very steep in places with many rocks, and a mower would not work. In addition, after June 1st it is forbidden to use a blade to cut anything, due to the fire risk. 

Sam strimming a hillside

And so he strims, or strimms? When he refills the tank or changes the strimming cords, I offer up food and water, but otherwise he is out working for 5-8 hours a day. This isn't really what we imagined when we moved from our high-maintenance yard in Oregon, and next year it will be managed differently. We don't yet know what that will look like, but this isn't sustainable.

A freshly strimmed section

The days are long with the sun coming over the mountains to the east by 7:30 each morning and darkness settling sometime after 10:00 pm. This week the moon is bright and shines in our window as we fall asleep around midnight. The days have been hot, but the evenings are pleasant and often we are still outside enjoying the cool dusk at 9:30.

Just before sunrise

The nearly full moon as seen through the netting over our bed

There is tension in our little community. The details are not completely clear and it is probably best not to share them in a public setting anyhow, but while we were on our little trip to Portugal and Galicia in May, a conflict erupted here at home. The immediate result was that an angry neighbor disassembled, and later removed, the water collection tank that Sam had installed at the fuente several months ago. The impact was that three houses, including ours, were no longer receiving any water from the fuente. We rely on this water source for all of our household water.

While we were on our vacation we received numerous texts and phone calls from various neighbors about the situation. Perceptions and accusations were shared and hurt feelings and resentments were aroused. Needless to say, this greatly impacted our ability to enjoy our long-anticipated excursion. 

By the time we returned home, one affected neighbor had stuck the pipe back into the stream and, although the tank has not yet been reinstalled, we are all getting water again.

Just a pipe with some screen stuck in the stream where the collection tank once sat

Unfortunately imaginary lines have been drawn and we've been assigned a side by one set of neighbors. Actually, at this point, we have all been assigned to that side by these particular neighbors. It is unnecessary and unfortunate, but we can't control how others maneuver through this life. 

Sam and I came to this part of the world because we want to live quietly. We have raised four wonderful kids and we embraced all of the challenges and sacrifices that involved. But now we want to relax. We want the time and space to be still and to breathe deeply, and to enjoy each other without the distractions of a faster-paced life. 

We have been pleasantly surprised by the friendship of several good neighbors and we are content to smile and wave to those with whom we will never be close. But we did not come here for drama. And so we have stepped back from the current situation, waiting to see how the dust settles.

When I started this blog I promised to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Fortunately it has been very nearly all good. And it will continue to be, but real life occurs everywhere, even in paradise, and I wanted to let you know.

A poppy just because....