Peak wild flower seems to have been reached. I shall have to scale back on the posies around the house. The gusts of citrus scent have tailed off too, allowing the steady background note of resinous Cistus ladanifer to dominate once more. We got the land cleared on the hill behind us: fire prevention. When summer really sets in, all the greenery between the trees could turn to tinder, waiting for a stray match. I have heard people’s tales of a major fire in this region a few years back, and how they feared for their lives. It’s not just us, of course; bit by bit, all around us parcels of land are being ploughed over. Marking of plots is another thing happening all around; one of our next jobs to do. A new regulation means that all landowners must identify their plots with numbered and initialled white stones/posts. Who-owns-what has long been an issue and the local government is trying to introduce some kind of system. It’s fascinating to see the initials appearing. The land we ‘own’ is behind our house; there’s a small patch of land in front, by the path down to the river, that is rumoured to be ours, too. The fact that no one else yet has claimed it suggests it might be so. It’s one of the places Horse used to graze when he was here.
At our house, the sparrows have been busy. Many fine strands of nest-lining have been selected and carried in through the mud tunnel. I imagine they have quite a few eggs in there by now. We should hear hatchlings before too long . . . unless, that is, the swallows get their way. The swallows are now bombing the nest. My sympathies have switched from the swallows to the squatter sparrows. Such drama, all on our front terrace.
And not the only drama around here lately. I don’t know quite what happened to me but one day this week I had a total collapse of morale. Things got on top of me. I’m not sure what it was about. All I know is that I was very much out of sorts. In this state I drove home in Rolie and decided not to reverse into the garage in the usual fashion but – inexplicably, other than being-out-of-sorts – to try a new way, and in so doing reversed Rolie into the millstone instead. Small damage to Rolie; ruination of my self-belief. By chance, one of my sisters called that night. I was still in pieces. Having moved country herself, she understood. ‘I have backing-Rolie-into-millstone days too,’ she said. (This is not literally true, you understand. 1. She’s an amazing driver. Used to drive a double-decker bus around London. 2. She does not drive a Renault 4. But you get the drift. Rolie-reversing as metaphor for life wobbles.) I guess moving country does give you a lot of work to do and a lot to think about. It’s not the easy choice. Do I regret it? No, not at all. Living here feels like the biggest treat in the world. I just have to make sure I’m up to it.
Talkative, French-accented Costa, from whom I bought the car, has recommended a mechanic to fix Rolie up. We’re going to meet at the garage tomorrow so he can introduce me. Tomorrow also sees the beginning of the building of the wall that will separate off Husband’s bakery; once that’s done, and the final, three-phase electrical connection is made, he can buy the oven he has long wanted and get baking properly.
The celebrations of 25 April, Freedom Day, are over and the next big event is the first of May, Labour Day. Maria tells me our river valley will be full of people having a festa. That will be something to see.