From the heart

news: From the heart

By Margaret Brown

With just a couple of frosty mornings followed by dawn until dusk sunshine, winter seems as far away as ever. Certainly the natural order of animal life is out of kilter judging from the early pairing off among our local birds, butterflies and especially this year some glorious monarchs the size of little birds.

Storks in Lagos have not migrated and amorous displays and clattering beaks promise an increased population later this year. Before the recession called a halt to speculative building, old established nests were destroyed and this caused a certain amount of dispute over remaining nests.

Young birds of breeding age had to build from scratch, their lack of experience plain to see, but it is to be hoped that tradition and respect for their heritage will prevent further destruction by those responsible.

Meanwhile, the Algarve is slowly coming to life after Christmas and New Year revelry. Smaller establishments seem to have taken a prolonged break, and being in urgent need of both plumber and hairdresser, this has been an inconvenience.

Having a lavatory out of order is merely a nuisance, but the prolonged absence of our village Cabelereira has left me peering through a fine curtain of itchy hair.

Following the sudden death of my husband just before Christmas, so many friends have told me of his feats of derring-do on and off the water that they would fill a book. One in particular needs retelling and it happened roughly as follows:-around September last year while sailing out from Caixa de Sol (Lagos) with a friend, both in Lasers, the Boss capsized in the harbour mouth.

The pilotless boat sailed away toward the horizon with its owner in hot pursuit. An RIB (rubber inflatable) happened to be going in the same direction and, realising that he was no match against wind and tide, the swimmer hitched a ride hoping to reclaim that which was lost.

Because my husband was bleeding from a wound gained during his capsize, the RIB helm turned round and headed for the Marina, no doubt to find medical help. Never one to take kindly to being fussed over the Boss dived off the rescuer’s boat and swam for the shore. By this time, the sailing Club (Clube de Vela de Lagos)had recovered his errant dinghy, and no doubt after a hot shower the friends retired to the Naufrágio Bar for coffee.

Back home, I was allowed to treat his battered legs and only after many days learned what had happened. Such was the man … independent, courageous and modest. We raced sailing dinghies together for 21 years and survived to tell the tale.

Life goes on, and our plot of land grows more unkempt by the day as the surrounding bush creeps in past dry stone boundary walls.

While always reluctant to denude the land of its luxuriant cover, it is high time our hard working cutters and mowers from Odiáxere came to give us a short back and sides. Advised to cut high and leave enough vegetation for local wildlife the concept has not been taken on board so far, but will try again and hope for the best.

As it is, they have made me an unsolicited walkway to my office which is a huge help but has caused problems for resident moles. Both sides of the path are lined with fresh heaps, each with a hole in the middle indicating their dislike or inability to burrow under the large, heavy tiles.

Of equal interest has been the sudden arrival of birds of prey that have been absent for many years, following a killing fest by hunters. Two buzzards and two smaller feathered predators seem to be finding enough prey to encourage setting up home here, which suggests a return of small mammals to the valley. Recently, shooting has slackened off, perhaps one of the few advantages of the economic downturn, that life may creep back into the area as it was when we first took the farm in 1986.

Now well into January, the pretty lights of Christmas seen on yachts in the Marina and Portuguese homes elsewhere continue to shine, and outside the Catholic Church in Luz the Holy Family remains.

Greater than life-size under a shelter made with rough timber and palm fronds, the tableau is an amazing recall of what happened all those years ago and an example of native creativity and handcraft. Also an example of the respect given to such works, there being no graffiti, no vandalism and no litter in that place.