Every evening when Best Beloved is at home, he and I sit out on the back verandah with our wine. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we argue. But at least some of the time we look out over the valley and down to the sea in silence.
The view has changed these last few weeks. No longer green, the meadows and plateaux are pale gold with ripening wheat and barley. Within a week we should see the tractors making their slow crawl, leaving swathes of cut grain that will be gathered into great rolls and loaded onto trucks.
Bright green has retreated, olive has returned. Slight humidity has brought a haze that hangs lightly over the land and blurs the once-sharp horizon. The sea has gone from blue to grey.
Last week we watched while eight hysterical hounds chased a hare across the opposite hillside, eventually losing him when the hare, with complete aplomb, zig-zagged, doubled back, and dived into a thicket of lentisk. This evening, there’s no such mad activity. Someone’s exercising their dogs on the slope, but the occasional clanging of the dogs’ bells is the only sound that alerts us to their presence.
We have started watering the olive trees. Last year the crop was poor -- plenty for us, but no excess to sell. But last year we had water cuts following poor rainfall and I was being stingey. We are also minding the field trees better this spring– applying zinc and iron through the watering system, spraying (at least Best Beloved is – after last year I washed my hands of it) M-Pede on aphids and sulphur on the mangoes. We think that there are some micronutrient deficiencies – apparently the inspector said that they were short some things, but I missed that part of the conversation because of my poor Greek.
This evening we are happy. Alex is off camping with his class in Polis (‘Getting pissed with his mates,’ Best Beloved intoned); Zenon and Leo are staying overnight with Matthew and Thomas in honour of Matthew’s eighth birthday (‘Do cleo and Chris know what they’re getting into?’ he wondered); Sophia is stuck to the computer, her nose in MSN.
I’m happy because I got so much done today. L, the Nepalese helper (he’s happy, or at least his father is because after 16 years with the Gurkhas he now has not only right of residency in the UK, but the pension and medical benefits that someone who has put his life on the line for Britain deserves) came today and together we cleared for a new double line of hoses, laid the hoses and the plastic mulch, planted 72 new cucumber vines and at least that number of green and purple beans, and cleared all the weeds out of the side garden, ready for a new round of cultivation and planting.
Best Beloved and I had a celebratory dinner: scallops perfectly cooked in butter and finished with a splash of cream, served with saffron pasta. The Condrieu matched them perfectly, and we smiled and held hands. Kay had suggested that we go out, but I don’t like going out for dinner. I can’t drink, because I drive, and I get ansty paying out for food that’s not as nice as we can make.
And nowhere has the view.