Life in a Small Town

When I was a little kid I used to love shows like the Waltons or The Andy Griffith Show. These were tv shows set in rural or small town America. Far from where I grew up.

But my grandparents had a farm when I was small. I rode my first pony there. And fed lambs with a bottle outside my grandma’s kitchen door. We used to eat blueberries from the hedge lining their driveway until we were sick. Eventually I developed an allergy to them that was surely born on the farm. I guess we only get to eat so many blueberries in a lifetime. I ate my quota by the time I was five years old.

My grandparents farm gave me a taste for rural life. There is always something to do. And space to run around. My grandma was a natural sort of person. No make up. Rubber boots and jeans. She didn’t expect me to be anything other than what I was. Never fussing when I ran back to the house covered in dirt, listening intently to whatever story came with my latest adventures. She was never rushed, and she laughed a lot. Like me, I guess. I liked her laugh, it was a comfort, and can hear it still.

My neighbor here, Marie Carmen, reminds me a lot of my grandma. Short, with smiling eyes, and a no nonsense attitude. And she laughs, too. I know this because she laughs at me.

Today, I was painting in my little painting turret. Sometimes paintings take a bit longer. This one I started more than two years ago. But the pandemic got in the way. So I decided to finish it today.

The mail lady had just been by to deliver an Amazon package and I was putting the finishing touches on my pomegranates. Suddenly, I looked out the window and I saw Marie Carmen climbing a tree in her blue checked apron. In her hand was a long menacing saw. And who is holding the ladder? Our mail lady! I’ll never say Correos isn’t full service, ever again. She appeared in no hurry, patiently waiting for the job and MC to climb down and be done.

But Marie Carmen climbed higher and our mail lady stood beneath her, as though she could catch her if she fell. Especially wielding that scary looking saw. Like my grandmother, Marie Carmen is on her own with a husband to care for after a stroke. It can not be easy.

On my daily walks down the Camino I have noticed it is pruning season. Villagers are out en mass sawing and weed whacking. Hedge trimming. The men aren’t dressed as you would see men doing yard work in the US. These guys are in khakis with dress shirts and cardigans. Nearly all of them are wearing a wool news boy cap of some sort. Or a black beret. Women in aprons and boots. They all wave and wish me a Bon Dia.

There are no power tools to be seem here. Scythes and saws. And the experience of 80+ years of living life by the weather and the seasons. If Jeff and I ever wonder what we should do, and when to do it on the farm, we just need to watch our neighbors. They’ll give us the nod. And it’s good to know I can count on a couple of extra hands, when needed, from the mail lady.

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