Portuguese Musings

From the contented comfort of a cushioned chair on my shady, sheltered balcony with a warm coffee in my hands I watch the world turning; village life trips by at Portuguese pace:

Children laugh and play with rope swings in the olive trees, tumble down grassy slopes with soft brown puppies or race down the sloping valley track on skateboards & scooters.

I watch men tinkering with cars, bonnets up or rolling down hills to a jump-start. Vans are loaded with planks of wood and bicycles or unloaded with shopping, brown paper bags of bread & cakes. Buses take the old folks to the day center, workers to and from the city or bring kids back from school. People pass by on horseback, women carry bundles of sticks and washing  up the lane on their heads. People pass with umbrellas, drums, trumpets, and bagpipes. I see farmers toiling the land, planting, weeding, harvesting; collecting olives, oranges, grapes & peaches. Tractors chug by, transporting goats to grazing pastures, baskets of olives to press and grapes to transform into rich red wine.

I hear sheep bleating, voices talking in Portuguese, German, English and Russian. Hens cluck the arrival of an egg or squabble over scraps. Frogs croak in the gurgling stream below and birds sing. Blackbirds, robins and blue-tits chatter, collard doves coo and jaybirds squawk while swallows swoop. I hear hammering, singing, shouting, cocks crowing, wings flapping, grass-strimmers trimming, cats mewing, dogs yapping, bees are buzzing, woodpeckers drilling and butterflies flutter noiselessly by.

I watch neighbours light fires, pitch caravans, erect tents and build yurts and months later dismantle them. They hang washing, tend crops, pick flowers, prune trees. They push wheelbarrows, drag branches, fill water buckets, shake out rugs, open gates, pick fruit, build walls, mend fences, paint houses; white, yellow, green, pink. They patch roofs with terracotta tiles, tin sheets or tarpaulins. Solar panels turn to the sun. Trail-bikes head up the dirt track into the eucalyptus woods thick with yellow mimosa flowers. The postie putts along the lane on his scooter, stopping to deliver post, parcels, news, hope, upsetting neighbourhood dogs in his wake.

I smell wood-smoke, cut grass, orange blossom, rain. In the distance I watch planes tracing lines across the blue skies, trees stirring in the breeze, clouds rolling over the mountains, windmills turning, lights flickering, slow winds bluster in a storm.

In the white tower, beneath the spire, the church bell tolls to ring the hours, the days, and the seasons as the world turns.

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