Monday, 11 June 2012

Before and After

BEFORE: looking out the front door

BEFORE: View from the front gate

BEFORE: Looking left from the gate, w/trough
I went away to Portugal and left the patio pretty much the way it´s been since we moved into our house. The big spruce tree was dropping sticky seeds and bird doots everywhere from up above, while down below its roots snaked into the sewer line. The old sheep-watering tank was crusty with black stuff, the well-head was festooned with Paddy and Kims´ "found objects," and my less-than-successful attempts at starting seeds were scattered along the windowsills and ledges. What once was a lawn, was long since reduced to scorched earth by dog paws. Bloomed-out rosebushes soldiered on in the middle, and a few brave weeds scaggled on along the edges. It was scruffy. 
DURING: tree and arch are no more

DURING: aaaaauuuughh!

When I returned home it was gone. The trees, the rose bushes, the lawn, the sidewalk, the trough... cut down, demolished,  and hauled off. We now have a spectacular sweep of biscuit-colored earthen tiles, terraced on two levels, with much more modern drainage. The little olive tree still stands bravely in its own square of dirt -- Paddy insisted that remain undisturbed. Three more slots were left for planting something in. It´s a lot less dirt than I´d specified when I talked to the builder.

It´s my fault, some of it. I went away and left the job in other hands. I wasn´t here to tell them otherwise. So I got the "garden"  the builder wanted -- a blast of right angles and hard sunlight. It´s new and clean and shiny. We had to immediately start painting the surrounding walls, which suddenly became a gallery of five years´ worth of  grubby. 

Of all the things that went, I especially mourn the passing of the ivy arch. I loved that arch. It was the first thing I saw when I first walked into the gate of the Peaceable. It was sweet and rustic and alive all the year ´round, and now it is history.
AFTER: View out the front door
AFTER: View from the front gate

AFTER: Well still is there, but no trough or tree! 

But there is an iron structure to support a vine. And I do have long, wide flowerbeds to work with. So we set out to soften the hard angles. I planted three kinds of lavender and several kinds of herbs, and put a healthy jasmine in a huge pot beside the vine-arbor. (Now if I could convince the dogs to not sleep on them...)

We put the outside dining table up near the front door, and when the parasol is up and the table is set it is a jolly sight. I climbed up onto the roof and put the new chimney-pot on top, a capriccio from southern Portugal. It is crooked, but it is now set in concrete. We painted the chimney-piece ochre. It looks very nice. Paddy painted the mint-green potting-shed a deep Greek blue. 

It´s going to be all right, I tell myself. We just need to sit with this a little while, and freshen up the paint, and get some plants growing. Next year, maybe, add a small fountain. A wall painted with an Abstract Expressionist thingy. Some ivy. Some birdsong.

The sky is very blue these days, and with the spruce gone we can see much more sky, night and day. The birds are not gone far. We have another big spruce out back.

We have a house, after all. It is paid-for. We are happy, and relatively healthy. Life is very good to us. 

The poppies bloom madly. The rye and oat fields are turning gold. The air is sweet with new-cut alfalfa. The guitarists are back, filling the churches with music, and Kim Herself is here, shimmering, if only for a couple of days.

Nothing lasts. Everything changes. This, too, shall pass.

Portuguese chimney-pot, Castillian ochre  
Harry among the flowers


Anonymous said...

I miss that archway...oh woe!!!

strangerthanfiction said...

That is a beautiful picture of Harry.

Libby said...

When the flowerbeds are full of green, you will feel much happier: some organic, living things to soften those hard, Spanish edges.

Tracy Saunders. said...

Oh dear. That archway was so pretty! Very nice Harry pic though. I can commiserate on the shock of seeing something changed so drastically as Saturday I received the mock up of the cover for what I believed was El Gallo de Santiago. It is now called El Baculo de Santiago and has the bishop's staff (the baculo) as the main theme. Not a rooster in sight. I cried all weekend! It was just like your patio only I didn't get any "during" pictures! Maybe I will get used to it eventually and after all the marketing department DO know more about these things than me.........(sob).
In the meantime, put lots of flowers in pots as I have done at the Little Fox. It's not a garden but it still looks beautiful. Tracy

Frank said...

It looks amazing if not quite as I remember the Peaceable Place.

I have just rediscovered how to comment

Thanks for all your lovely Blogs and love to Paddy

Anonymous said...

I think the Peaceable looks like a fabulous bed and breakfast...the lavendar will be beautiful and will grow like crazy with the heat and light....and the Portuguese little witches cap is super....can't wait to see it and you all again,
love, k

Anonymous said...

It does indeed look way different from how I remember it when Kim so nicely treated me to a glass of fresh water and grapes (July 13,2010: my birthday and your anniversary in Avila).
I just may stop by again after my 2 weeks as hospitalero in Grañón (July 1-16). Will you be around?
Lee (LTfit Forum)

EileenHamer said...

Needs a loggia with a grapevine! You can have the arch anytime, just get two BIG ceramic pots for the ivy, a wood or iron frame to link the two, plant some ivy, water, and wait. Voila! The place looks fabulous, a blank canvas waiting for you.

Ryan Reichert said...

It's heartwarming to see all these other folks with comments of "it's not what I remember..." I'm so pleased to be part of this group that has memories in this wonderful place. I have to say, I'm sad to see the rough and tumble garden and greenery gone, but the new set up is gorgeous. Very well done; and I'm sure all the new flowers and plants will transform it in no time, growing and shaping many memories to come. <3

IAN H. said...


Ian, that is what I fear most. So today we invested in trees and a grapevine and some lovely pots to grow them in, and yesterday me and Kim drove out to the Promised Land and "liberated" some wild shrubberies to replant in our patio. The dogs don´t like it, but they are Dogs. With vines vining and trees clapping their hands and the walls changing colors, life is moving along toward Good. So yall come on over and hang out among it, OK?