Week 29: ‘Nothing but blue skies’
I won’t go on about this. I’ll just mention it quickly and move on. For the past week we have had blue skies all day, every day. And since there’s so little air traffic, there are no vapour trails to spoil the colour either.
We collect our post from a shop up on the top road, from an old man called Flaviano. It’s not just a shop, it’s also a bar, a cement-mixing workshop, and, in a cavern in the back, a kind of neglected sorting office. Flaviano is a fairly recent widower and it might be that when his wife was alive he looked rather smarter. As it is, he wears the same baggy trousers with uneven turn-ups every day I see him. But who cares? He still has a zest for life and a taste for a joke. He is usually leaning on his bar/shop counter, chatting with his cronies. He serves cold port for about 50 pence a shot, and Husband and I like to stop for a drink from time to time to keep in with him and to relish the contents of his shop. He stocks almost everything, from bars of soap to jars of chickpeas and fly swats. Most of these items sit singly on the shelves, with space between that is much feted by spiders.
It was just after our olive-harvesting efforts that we dropped in on Flaviano and I looked with new eyes at the yellow comb-like things hanging next to the fly swats. These were combs for harvesting olives, no doubt about it. I extracted one on its rusty wire from the encompassing spiders’ webs. This led to some chatter among the old men. Did we realise what it was for? Did we also realise it was too late for the olive press, which had closed for the season, and that the olives were now virtually over anyway? We did, and I wanted it anyway. Flaviano, who has very few teeth, took off his hat – demonstrating that he has even less hair than teeth – to mime an alternative use for the comb in the meantime. He has a face that is transformed by laughter.
From the cavern at the back we have so far retrieved much post, so the system seems to be working all right, for letters and cards at least (packages are another story – we do not know where they end up). When I say we have retrieved much post, I should say that it has been ours. Although really you could help yourself to anyone’s.
Every day at about 17.35 we hear the mournful lament of a little owl. We go outside to try to get a good view of it on its habitual post. Against the darkening skies, it is never possible to see its full beauty – though it is, indisputably, beautiful. It mewls its complaint for a few moments and then flies off. It is one of the many wonderful birds here.