Today was a day like many others, lived to the rhythm of the village. Jack and I hit the garden early – we were out with wellies on and tools in hand by 9am. A good time to be digging before the full heat of the day beats us back indoors to the cool of our stone-built house.
The only down side to our (relatively) early rising is that none of the other children in the village are up and about yet, so there is no distraction on hand for Jack. While he loves to help (all the while telling me what a good helper he is) the joys of chasing round the garden with Alberto or Pelayo last somewhat longer than those of digging in the earth when Mummy’s attention is more firmly fixed on her ongoing war on weeds than it is on her darling boy.
Soon Alberto’s grandfather, Aurelio, appears. He takes his usual seat beside the hedgerow just outside our garden. This is the spot where most mornings and afternoons he sits to patiently sharpen his scythe before putting it to work in the fields. The tap, tap, tapping of the anvil on the blade beating out a gentle soundtrack to our days.
Aurelio takes us over to the barn to check in on the calf that was born last night. We were lucky enough to have seen it when it was only minutes old – pretty mindblowing stuff for a young child. Jack is delighted to see how sturdy and active it is already.
As the barn is directly underneath Alberto’s house our visit to the calf has the added bonus of alerting him to Jack’s presence and he soon descends with his ‘moto’ to commence the serious business of playing. The pair ride their motos round and round the garden performing stunt crashes while I weed furiously, making the most of the childcare assistance.
Beneath the squeals of children playing, the steady thrum of bees buzzing about their business often accompanies us around the village. Today it grows to a crescendo and the realisation dawns on me that one of the hives in the next field is swarming. I unfold myself from the flower bed and look on, agog; warily watching for where they might be headed.
The only other time I witnessed this phenomenon was four years ago when a hive swarmed onto our house. As we watched, horrified, the white walls of the third floor of the house turned black with clustering bees. I remember Aurelio stood next to us at the time, chuckling so hard that tears came. When, moments later, a second swarm came and did the same thing to his house he didn’t laugh quite so much!
Both swarms installed themselves in our respective attic spaces and despite callling the local bee expert he was unable to get them out and into a hive because of difficult access. They never gave us any trouble – the only way we knew they were still there was for the occasional, distant noise of formula 1 racing cars and the heavy, gorgeous scent of honey perfuming the air of our salon at certain times of the year. Then one year they picked up and moved on.
Still, you can understand why I was keen to see them safely re-homed somewhere suitable. The afore-mentioned bee-man had told us cautionary tales of bees taking up residence in much more problematic places than our loft space and I didn’t want to find them swarming in my kitchen this time!
Today they clustered around the trunk of a young tree in the field waiting to decide on a new hive. When swarming like this the bees are dopey and docile and non-aggressive. Still, I took this photo of them using a big lens so I didn’t have to get too close.
Alberto senior dashed off to get his bee-suit and a spare hive. Like some strange arch-bishop he swung his smoker, filled with wood-shavings, to entice them into the hive, placed at the bottom of the tree. Once the first few have entered, he leaves them to complete the house-move themselves in their own time.
The children are truly fascinated by both this spectacular display of nature in action and by Alberto’s cool armour-like suit. Once the excitement is over it’s time for their lunch and a much-needed siesta.
The road and fields are empty for a couple of hours, then post-merienda time (afternoon tea, about 5pm) the village stirs again. The children take to the street with their bikes and trucks and toys and the adults return to their outdoor tasks with them.
The cool of the early evening is filled with play and pottering in the garden. Watering with hose and can is a favourite all-family activity. After which, it’s time to water and feed the family again as the day draws to a close.
I’m linking this post up to ‘Country Kids’ over at Coombe Mill. Click the badge below to read about some more outdoors family adventures.