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....


  1. In my modest opinion it is almost utopia to think that everything will be perfect always... unfortunately you are now facing an obstacle which appears to be even bigger because it appeared suddenly in the peaceful and pleasant settings of your bucolic life...I am confident that you will solve the problem and you will be again fully content and happy to be in Spain.... Love, Carlo

    1. Thank you Carlo. Yes, it will all be worked out and put behind us. And soon we will see you!

  2. Hey Laura. A story of work both physically and with emotionally/psychological. Perhaps your return for some weeks will be perfect timing and could help cool the tempers. My hope for you. I just want to know, has there ever been a day in Sam's life that he hasn't worked his tail off????? Ha ha. Wow that looks daunting. All the best as you prep for your return! Hugs. Jeanne

    1. I think he will always work his tail off!

  3. Water issues as we know first hand are formidable to say the least, because they can be life threatening. I hope there is a paper trail of your rights if any. It sounds like you have a little authoritarian neighbor of your own. It is probably a good idea to come back to the states every summer. You will use less water and avoid the annual conflict.