A Year in Mallorca
MEDITERRANEAN LIFE, SPAIN, COUNTRY / JULY 20, 2016
MEDITERRANEAN LIFE : HOME ON THE ISLAND OF MALLORCA
My friends who have watched me pack up and leave our home have been asking “Won’t you miss it?” And I say “Yes. I will miss it. I will always miss it.” My husband looks at me with a look that says “Wow. We got to live here.” We are thankful.
Now that we have said goodbye and I am sitting on a mountain lake on the other side of the world I realize I have gone days without hearing the bleating of the sheep. I wake up every morning without flinging shutters open and regal Italian cypress trees are not the first thing I see. I do not gauge the weather by their sway and I do not trace the line of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains with my just opened eyes.
We lived on a Mediterranean island. In many ways it seems like a dream. Our home was a renovated stone farmhouse on a vast family estate. The estate, like so many in Mallorca, is a working farm.
On the farm there is a relentless effort to cultivate the land so the trees bare fruit and the sheep eat well; in quieter days the farmhands mend crumbling stone walls and straighten fences. To get to our house from the main road, we had to drive slowly down a private dirt road, traversing the property. We were often accompanied by hares, especially in the evening. And birds – hoopoe, partridges, pipits, wagtails and more- crisscrossed our path leading us home. I watched for the sheep as they were herded from field to field. I loved it when they spent time in the fields near the house. My husband wasn’t always so sure; On international business calls people might say “Where ARE you?” They could sometimes hear their bleating (and belching) over the phone. Carobs were harvested in the fall. Their once green turned almost black pods were piled high, stuffed into burlap bags and sent to market. (We learned that the term carot comes from the carob. Ancient traders balanced carob beans on a scale with diamonds and other gemstones and over time the weight became known as a carot.) There were banks of rosemary, lavender, lemon thyme, prickly pear and voluptuous pomegranates for the picking. The landscape provided an ever changing array of colorful flowers in bloom; winters are mild here.
Mallorca is the largest of the (Spanish) Balearic Islands. It lies in the nautical intersection of Spain, Southern France, Italy and North Africa. Back in the thirteenth century King James I of Aragon conquered the island, divvied the land up and gave it to a few noble families in exchange for their support. This estate which we lived on, ever dwindling in size as generations have sold off land, still belongs to one such noble family. Our landlord was born here, as was his mother and his grandmother… and so on. Our landlord’s family has lived on this land for more than 700 years!
I will also remember: playing family ping pong and soccer games in the lower field, watching the boys build shelters in the bamboo forest, the shimmer of our swimming pool bordered by olive trees and gathering around a picnic table covered with bread, wine, meats, cheese and fruit. I will remember skipping down the steps (old railroad ties) to jump in the car and take the kids to school, which was a 10 minute back country ride from our house. We could walk it too, if we were willing to break our landlord’s strictest rule that we never go “over there” crossing into forbidden areas, onto neighboring properties and over several rickety fences. Sometimes we were willing. An equally short drive in the opposite direction led us directly into the vibrant city of Palma.
I am in awe of it all, even now. Grácies de tot cor!