Week 59: Warm nights
On the night of the full moon, 2 July, we sat outside on our back terrace in the warm breeze, watching the stars. Venus and Jupiter were particularly bright, quite close together, and for a moment so low in the sky over the hill that they appeared exactly like the headlights of a car driving off-road. I imagine this is the sort of thing that gives rise to claims of UFO sightings – though how the spacecraft, aliens and abductions are brought into play I’m not so sure. A simple case of bejewelling the elephant, perhaps, as our friends Lionel and Michael would say.
Night-times are beautiful now. The days are hot and largely silent of bird song – the mate-attracting over and done with – though there are still plenty of calls, often between adult birds and their young. Husband imitates the oriole so well that he appears to have a conversation with them. To fill the birdsong gap, the cicadas have started up with their chorus, which sounds like water being squeezed out under pressure through a hole in a hosepipe. This watery chorus is conducted by an invisible maestro; it periodically rises and falls, and then all of sudden goes dead silent on an instantaneous accord, usually when one of us steps outside (after which it soon decides we are no danger and starts up again).
It’s high thirties now but in our brief absence last week the temperature topped 40°C. The stalwart fig tree is covered in yellow leaves, and many of its new little fruits have shrivelled and died. We’ve been clearing it of dead stuff and giving it water, hoping it will pull through and come back to fruitfulness. The bougainvillea is a confetti factory. Maria says she finds the heat just terrible. She told me this when we were having a conversation about shoes – I was asking her to keep an eye out for Estrela’s latest acquisitions. First Estrela took one of Husband’s walking sandals, and I was mildly amused. Next she took one of mine, and I was slightly less amused. Maria found Husband’s straight away. Mine took a little longer, but when we came back from shopping a couple of days later there it was, hanging by its Velcro strap from the line on the front veranda, no doubt carefully placed to be out of reach of the shoe-hunting dog.
We have discovered Lordy’s weak spot. He loses his habitual cool, his dark-ringed brown eyes turning into saucers (of a non-UFO kind), when we have fresh goat’s cheese on the table. He loves it. We give him a few slivers, but it’s never enough for the saucer-eyed dog.
The clear water of the sea, coruscating under bright southern sunlight, is a beautifully swimmable temperature now. The beaches we had to ourselves all winter and much of the spring are now filling up with people – and boardwalks, sunbeds, umbrellas, and all the other accoutrements of holidays in the sun. And the good news is that, astonishingly enough, one day we will have our own swimming pool – the camara has approved our application. We have it in writing. We don’t know how long it will take to build the pool. The electricity for the bread oven is finally ready and that took four months. We’d like to have the option to solar-heat the water so we can use the pool for more of the year, so an autumn or winter build might still make sense. But if we could magic the pool up tomorrow, we would.