I will miss the neglected but well walked woodland that flanks the dirt car park outside our balcony window. The the wind whispering in the pine trees. The dappled light, filtering green down through the dense aromatic branches, that dances on the closed curtains like a delicate shadow puppet show. The myriad of wildlife on our doorstep, and sometimes inside the threshold too.
Today, I’m lying in bed listening to the daily ecstatic dawn chorus – ever more raucous during the peace and solitude that a spring and summer without tourists the covid-19 quarantine has gifted this small yet notorious Mediterranean island. Common or garden blackbirds, robins, yellow wagtails, warblers, wood pigeons, and the humble Spanish sparrows discuss the morning news with the elusive and exotic looking pink hoopoe. Summer visiting swifts and sand martins wheel and scream, high up in the endless blue expanses, in feeding frenzies catching mosquitoes for their growing offspring, while the amorous local sparrows are speed-dating, and re-feathering their nests in the recently pruned palm trees, preparing for their second, or even third broods this year. Giant dragon flies hover between relays from sun to shade and back again, their brilliant colours flashing and changing with the light – vermilion, azure, emerald and cyan. Green pitiusic lizards laze on rocks and walls, warming their scales and contemplating the day or perhaps meal ahead, whilst avoiding the non-native snakes that in recent years have invaded the island from the mainland, sneaking in on olive trees disguised as bark. Sleepy brown butterflies, likewise, select sunlit flowers to stretch their wings, whilst the hummingbird moths lie-in, waiting for evening to make a high-speed circuit of their favourite flowers – verbena, hibiscus and jasmine.
I soak up the last few hours of these experiences, all five senses full to brimming over, trying to bottle them to keep in my box of most happy and delicious memories. My eyes scan over the almond tree design on that fills the wall in front of the bed. The boys and I spent several days painting woody patterns on paper and cutting shapes of trunk, sticks and leaves. Every size and colour of blossom and butterfly, and happy smiling bee adorn the tree, and my eldest son Finn made his own almond sapling to rest in the shade of the mother tree. I can hardly believe, nor want to, that it is time for us to go. So many happy memories this house holds, inside and out, from just a fleeting two year stay. Through the window I watch the pepper and passionfruit plants growing in their pots on the steps. They are far from fruiting so will make good parting gifts for our friends and neighbours to remember us by. It is safe to say that in this short stay, we have really put down roots, and Mediterranean life has hooked in deep under our sun burnished skin.
The tiny studio flat is waist-deep with boxed up belongings, most of which we will not need during our summer on the boat, nor perhaps ever again if the wind takes us away from the island towards a Winter in Italy, Croatia or beyond. Or if ever more common summer storms, with the unpredictability of climate change, return us to shore sooner than expected, clinging to the safety of bricks and mortar once more. And if that shore should be Ibiza, Spain, England or Scotland – our ‘home’, or at least it used to be, and may have to be once more when impact of Brexit takes full force at the end of this year, and a second Scottish referendum broods on the changing skies of potentiality. So we are attempting to prepare for every eventuality. There are boxes for the boat, for the campervan and to store in a trailer ready for future home-making on land, whenever and wherever that piece of land turns out to be. My head reels from the multitude of variables presenting us right now, and my heart aches and longs for the security of a simple, static life. How ever did we get ourselves into such a fix?
But Floss is launching in two days time and needs a crew to care for her, and guide her through unknown waters. The hours of packing and preparation tick on unrelenting, leading us onward and outward to new horizons.
The Sunday morning bell tolls, as it has done for over 500 years, ringing out from the little church on the hill – calling “all is well”. No pirates today. Only an empty Sunday mass that you can view online from the safety of a screen at home. The bells, and the fortified church with it’s two metre thick fortified walls, are frozen in time, but life moves on.