Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Walk in the Country

Yesterday late afternoon we arrived at Quinta Moenda after a train-plane-automobile adventure of 8 or 9 hours to a very warm welcome from Josephine and Hans -- and to find that we were invited to dinner with the two other couples (one with a young child) staying here. What a memorable meal that was to welcome in the summer, all of us sitting around the table on the stone terrace. Although everyone but us was Dutch, they all deferred to us and conversed in flawless, if accented, English -- an easy and interesting discussion of travels, politics, art, movies. And when we were done, Pater and I had a quick dip under the moonlight in honour of the Solstice -- how perfect was that!

This morning, looking out at this bucolic view (that's our doorway the camera's peeking through, above, and just to the left of the chaise longues and umbrellas you can see is the pool)
we planned the day's agenda: a walk to the village, swimming, reading, drive to a nearby restaurant for lunch, swimming, reading, nap, another walk in the evening. . . .

I brought my camera, thinking you might like to come along . . .
I can show you well-ordered, thriving vegetable gardens in the rich land alongside the river
being worked by villagers who walk down each day from their houses up the road -- a wise conservation of the productive land which would be wasted for residential use. The Portuguese are generally reticent at first, but while few volunteer a Bom dias, they happily call it back to us if we greet them first.At the risk of romanticizing, I love how well used every simple commodity is here, a frugal practicality born of decades and decades of deprivation, as in this simple pathway ramp for getting a wheelbarrow across a ditch. Here an old metal drum, perhaps having served some time as an incinerator, rusts away the last of its summers atop a drystone wall next to the tin roof of a chicken shed.

And this old tractor seems doomed to rust in place, having apparently failed to move its load of firewood.

More photos soon if you'd like to continue our walk . . . Meanwhile, I wish you could smell the new-mown hay mingled with the scent of the wild mint and the climbing roses . . . the moon is beginning to assert itself against the last blue-and-pink wisps of sunset and the night chirping of insects competes with the river sounds (the Quinta used to be a mill so we've got a very healthy river right next door). I'm listening for the frogs and the promise of toadsong Hans described.

But for now, I have to hurry to the last chapters of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. The suspense is killing me! (no spoilers, please!)