meeting our neighbors
(or becoming one with our neighborhood)
this Saturday has been an unreal adventure…
Jorge, a man who commonly passes by, finally stopped to share some wisdom.
A few days ago Mohamed had given him some dates
from the stash we have from his grandfather’s trees
(growing in his parents’ front yard & kindly brought over for us)
when he passed him on his way back from unclogging the water source.
Jorge is from Angola, been here a long time, speaks slow and clear Portuguese,
and shared a lot of information about the nearby neighborhoods,
and the services they provide, especially to newcomers and families.
He actually gave us some hats and a few toys for Marmalade.
He also gave Mohamed a contact for professional diving work in Sines,
a nearby port town, actually the westernmost port for mainland Europe.
So hopefully this leads to a good path for Mohamed to follow.
Secondly, right after sunset, and when sitting down to eat homemade pizza,
the phone rang. It was a lady returning our message inquiring about a used car:
the nicest, most affordable car that we found for sale in our region.
Mohamed was nervous about answering, being both tired and anxious,
as talking on the telephone is usually taking a Portuguese pop quiz.
Except this lady is from Morocco, so they could converse comfortably in Arabic.
And they live in Zambujeira do Mar, and have a son, Said, who is Marmalade’s age.
She offered to sell us the car, help us to do all the car’s paperwork,
and even assist with getting Marmalade registered into school with Said.
It is a miracle!
After all of our remaining confusions and stresses
about procedures, paperwork, and legalities,
we were offered assistance and guidance today.
The morning had a Leaf Trine, during the Fruit time,
which led to a warm day with lots of clouds and passing showers.
The mushrooms have responded favorably to the change in the weather.
We found a cluster of parasol mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera)
at the edge of the path leading into Bamboo Parque,
and a meadow mushroom (Agaricus campestris),
the wild cousin of the white supermarket mushroom,
growing in our backyard. Marmalade picked them both,
having an incredibly fun time playing with the parasol.
(I am currently doing a spore print to confirm,
but we are really excited to find parasols,
one of our favorite edibles, that we were missing from Austria.)
Also, an astounding discovery:
some of the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) mycelium I had moved over
have survived and have produced primordia, the predecessor to mushrooms.
The spawn was mixed with pasteurized recycled carton and wood debris,
and packed into washed half liter milk containers and resealed before moving.
The scorching heat throughout our road-trip, especially in Spain,
took a toll on some of the mushroom samples we brought,
but these seem to have not only survived,
but acclimatized and are doing well.
Nearby to our mushroom patch,
we befriended a praying mantis,
a quite large green one with a strange habit
of climbing up to the top of a wildflower stalk
until it bends over from its weight,
leaving the mantis hanging upside down.
It happened twice in a row.
I want to mention that I love mantis.
I find them strange and peculiar,
thoughtful and knowing.
I had seen a few at my mom’s house when I was younger,
but then none for years, until this Spring,
when we found a huge one in Mohamed’s parents’ backyard.
I was taking video, and as I crouched down to get a closer look,
it jumped into my hair, apparently to get a closer look as well.
We’ve seen a few more mantis here, smaller ones mostly,
that seem to enjoy sunning themselves on the solar panel in the mornings.
Also peculiar, at least at first,
was a very slow going reddish caterpillar
(or as Marmalade says “calapitter”)
that was on umbrella fabric on our porch.
I thought perhaps it was camera-shy,
because it became very inactive.
Later, when Mohamed pulled the umbrella to cover our camp stove,
we found it was inside a fold, and had made a cocoon for itself there.
Mohamed was concerned since he had slightly ruptured the cocoon
and the caterpillar had half-emerged when he had moved it.
Fortunately, when checking in later,
the cocoon had been reinforced
with the caterpillar safely tucked inside.
(In retrospect, I should have suspected that it was going into metamorphosis.
In researching to try to identify a giant red & purple caterpillar this Spring,
I had read that many caterpillars turn red when they are ready to transform.)
Our giant spider is still in the same place in the tall grass,
rebuilding its web every few days, and getting noticeably larger.
Mohamed found another large spider, with a similar web design,
further up the path towards the house.
This one is golden in color, much wider, almost crab-like.
Oh, and we have moles!
We haven’t seen them yet,
but we see new evidence of their own home improvements:
molehills and tunnel mounds, especially after each rainfall.
They are incredibly beneficial to the soil,
especially for the trees and other large plants,
as they create channels for both water and roots
to penetrate within this hard-packed rocky soil.
And dragonflies! Lots of them!
Some are smaller and graceful, stunning really.
And some are really huge, like remote-control toy helicopters buzzing around.
They fly much like bats, which isn’t too surprising
since they’re both out there cruising the skies for insects.
I’ve hoped to capture them on videos so that I could post them;
but they fly fast and at dusk, dawn, and twilight respectively,
so not easily photographed with our limited technology.
But hopefully sometime soon.