Felix continued putting form in the land around the masia – re-distrubiting the stony ground, building dry stone walls and terraces and so forth. He put all the old character back into the finca that the building project had destroyed. The little animal pens and corals were repaired and re-invented for other uses – a barbecue hut, a viewpoint bar, a place to rest in the summer heat, a meditation room with views of Penyagolosa.
The tractor man dug countless holes and filled them with decent soil for the trees that we sought here and there at bargain prices in sorry nurseries suffering the effects of a deep recession. No point in planting these, Felix stated, without proper preparation or you will wait 50 years for them to grow a centimetre. Looking at the bare mountain opposite one side of the finca I had to agree. It had burnt down 35 years ago and still looked largely barren.
As well as holes, slabs of stone were sourced from the very land and relocated here and there as rustic tables and stools. At times I looked from the masia windows in fear. Felix re-assured me repeatedly that they would not tumble over and crush some hapless individual.
During dry weather a neighbour spent hours watering our newly acquired orphans twice a week. Actually so did I in between, happily I must say, though it was hard work with only buckets under the heat and piercing sun. Any tree has to be thus pampered in the first two years of plantation. A lesson from my mum.
I also planted loads of lavenders, from wherever I could source them. And any plant I could find that was purported to repel flies. There were so many flies that year. I thought they came from the numerous empty sardine cans thrown around by the workmen. And whatever else they discarded will-nilly. In time I would learn it was the Maquis, the prickly oak scrubland all around me. Interestingly enough also the name for Spanish guerrillas during the Franco resistance, no doubt because they hid out in it.