Sunshine after the rain


This came to mind as I sat down to write…

Driving down to the open day at Piensos Angelino, our local pet supply place, it was hard to believe that this time yesterday we were sitting in the semi dark, listening to the constant pounding of torrential rain and rumbles of thunder. Having endured about a year’s worth of rain in 48 hours, Málaga, Almeria and Murcia regions have featured on national and international news. Reports have been circulating of lives lost and hundreds of people evacuated from their homes, roads closed, motorway bridges swept away, and cars, chickens, goats and donkeys floating down the streets.

Apart from a few piles of mud that have been cleared to the side of the roads – the local authorities are wonderful at getting the JCBs out and clearing away landslips – there is little evidence in our area that yesterday was not a beautiful, sunny late summer day like today.

Admittedly, the landscape looks somehow brighter and better defined, now that the dust has been washed from the leaves of the crops, trees and cortijos dotted about the mountainsides. La Maroma sleeps peacefully above the villages under a clear blue sky, where yesterday she was hidden in the clouds.

Our village, nestling bebeath La Maroma

We drove past bright pomegranates, hanging heavy on the branches, avocados, less flagrant, nestling thickly on the trees, chumbos ripe and lush, dropping off the prickly pears, bamboo patches waving in the wind and bright yellow, purple, pink and orange flowering plants shouting for attention. One or two white, fluffy, innocent clouds cast shadows on the hills in the distance. I love this place.

Angelino’s pet shop is more like a small warehouse, with an office-cum-shop set into one corner, where he keeps the smaller items, like bird food, dog leads and pet beds. In the main body of the warehouse are sacks of dry food for dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, chickens etc, and some cages of quails, chickens, rabbits, lovebirds and finches. Outside is a small car park, where he keeps a traditional horse-drawn wagon, brightly painted, bearing a ‘for hire’ sign. Around the edges of the car park, he has a few late tomatoes ripening on the vines and green peppers ready for picking. The back of the warehouse is stacked high with dry olive wood, ready for delivery at 50€ per cubic metre. A couple of metres will keep us snug and warm for the winter. As the estufa blazes and Poppy tries to cook her head in the log store beneath it, casseroles and scones will cook in the small oven above.

We don’t have central heating, and frankly, I prefer it that way. I love to have a bedroom that is cooler than the sitting room. I enjoy being able to put furniture against whichever wall I choose. I like to be able to sneak a shirt I loathe onto the fire when Someone isn’t looking. I love the ritual of lighting a fire, taking pleasure in managing with two sheets of newspaper, a pine cone and one match. Twiddling a thermostat was never such fun! But it looks as if we shall have a while longer to wait before we need to be lighting fires.

Chumbos, or prickly pears. Tasty and sweet, but not easy to pick!

Yesterday, in a brief break in the downpour, I went out onto the roof terrace to check on the plants out there. Having only mopped the kitchen floor a day or two before, I tiptoed from one dryish patch to the next, avoiding the wettest spots, so as not to tread footprints in. The baby tomato plants, growing in cut-down milk cartons, were trying to learn breaststroke and failing. The nisperos in cracked mugs that I couldn’t bear to throw away were up to their knees in water. The large tub, in which the peppers and mint stand in their pots, was almost overflowing. I emptied out the surplus water from the smaller plants, standing well back to avoid any splashing. I decided to leave the large tub until I could enlist some help. It wouldn’t do to get my feet wet.

The larger tomato plants, which I recently tied in to taller supports, were looking fine. The hibiscus was looking great. The huge blooms were gaily sticking their tongues out at me, as if they really couldn’t care less what the weather was up to. The jasmine, fuschia and lantanas looked clean and perky, and my two prized plumbago cuttings were green and lush and still covered in sky blue flowers. Fantastic!

The split bamboo on the metal framework that covers most of the terrace had held up perfectly well, and my solar-powered Chinese lanterns and fairy lights looked fine. Geoff’s Beer Garden sign was still in place. Although I could barely see the house opposite, as the village was in the cloud, all was, I concluded, right with the world.

Hop-scotching over the water still running away from the larger pots, I congratulated myself that I had managed to keep my feet fairly dry, and made my way back into the kitchen. As I closed the kitchen door I stepped back, and straight into Poppy’s water bowl.