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Monday, 01 May 2017

A Labor of Love: Living & Renovating in Portugal - Page 5

Written by Jeannie Pontet
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The freshly painted gates were open, creating the curtains of the stage upon which I was most central, busy cutting the wood I had collected earlier that morning while the sun was still low and the air was cooler. The fellers had completed their task the previous year, and as oft times as possible, I would drive my car to the track that passed this land upon once stood tall eucalyptus and pine trees and where now only stumps, small logs and pine cones lay scattered across the steep land drying in the heat of the summer, perfect for my little fire. Wiping my sticky brow with a sweaty forearm and removing the hot plastic goggles I looked up from my labor and happened upon an elderly farmer standing at the open gate. Although it was at least 25º, he was dressed in a long sleeved checked shirt, shabby waistcoat, grey flannel trousers, heavy boots and grey flat cap; I felt quite indecent in my bikini top and shorts. Across his shoulder he rested a scythe and in his other hand a well-used knapsack.

His olive skin served to highlight his sea green eyes that sparkled with amusement between furrowed brow and wrinkled face mapped out of years in the fields under a blistering sun. His chuckle gave away his presence and I quickly donned my t-shirt before making his acquaintance. He rambled on in his rough dialect swallowing every other word; between his four remaining teeth spittle escaped as he spoke. I could only presume from his gesticulating that he had seen me cart the wood from the base of the steep hill to my car, transport it to my cottage and now finds me using an electric saw to cut it to size for my personal use. Like many of his neighbors he could not fathom why it was I taking up such a task, did I not have a husband or son to do such labor? Perhaps he could send his son, a handsome strong man of 40 years to help me with such heavy tasks; he could bring me to meet Dona Eleanor his good wife and share a traditional dinner with good pork and much vinho tinto de casa! Muito, ta bém! “Ah Nina you should not have to take such tasks upon yourself! Oh why you do not have a husband, I do not know!”

Later that evening chuckling with delight over dinner of caldeirão marisco (a wonderful dish of fresh seafood fish and rice served in a huge cauldron) my good friend Doctor Jorge relayed the current concerns of those in the saude of the English woman with no husband or son to cut her wood!

(Page 5 of 6)
Last modified on Monday, 01 May 2017

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