Week 69: Soundscape
We returned to our valley from the clamour of London and as our senses readjusted we noticed how much our home soundscape has changed since autumn arrived. The cicadas are gone, taking their strident abdominal amplifications with them; their young, the nymphs hatched from their eggs, have burrowed underground and we won’t see or hear from them until next summer. The many different visiting birds who sang their way to a mating partner, then filled our valley with the calls of their family life and group activities, have gone. The stout-bodied Thekla lark with its pointed head crest never went away but we couldn’t hear it for all the other birds. Now in the relative silence its song is audible again. The woodpeckers are pecking the trees around us, not drumming to advertise their presence, just feeding – a much gentler sound. All is peaceful – or might be, were it not for two building projects we are about to undertake.
The first is the installation of the solar panels. Part of the terrace floor and a garden wall will be taken up to connect up the solar panels, which are to be laid on our hillside, with the batteries, which will be housed in a hitherto unused storage space at the back of the garage that is accessed from the rear terrace. (We’re lucky that storage space is there. I don’t think the solar panel engineer could believe his, or rather our, luck when he first came to assess our site.) The panels and batteries were delivered today, from Germany via a business in Spain, and our own electrician and builder also came by to determine what needs to be done. The languages spoken during the course of this were German, Swiss German, Portuguese, Spanish and English. Our own little Babel.
When this is all done, we can look into getting the swimming pool built. This will also involve taking up part, indeed most, of [what’s left of] the back terrace. We have to reduce our built area before we can add something new to it because we are already at the limit of what we are allowed. In fact, we’re over the limit. This would not have mattered had we not wanted to add to it. Increasing our built area means complying with current regulations, not those that were in place when our house was originally constructed, when the allowance was a little more generous than it is now. The front terrace, which has proper Santa Catarina terracotta tiles, manufactured just a few kilometres away, will remain unchanged. For the back terrace floor, we’ll think of something.