It’s July, the temperatures are in the forties (or the hundreds, if you prefer), school’s out, and the village population has doubled in the last week as families return to their rural properties for the summer months.
Our nearest neighbours arrived en masse last weekend: grandparents, parents, children… First things first: as soon as the cases, bags and cooler boxes had been unloaded, the pool cover was removed and the machinery set going so the kids would be able to swim.
The house and pool end of their plot doesn’t actually border with ours, so we haven’t seen much of them since they arrived. I imagine the father got them all settled in and stocked up with supplies then returned to work in the city on Monday. He’s back today, though, as I can hear the industrial-strength strimmer roaring through the jungle at the back of their house.
Heaven knows what he’ll find in there: bugs of all types, no doubt, hedgehogs and lizards, too, and maybe even a snake. Perhaps there will be traces of some of the neighbourhood ferals who’ve disappeared over the last year, or the grey queen’s latest litter (though I think she’s wise enough to have moved the kittens when the humans reappeared).
I’ve often wondered why the architect put the pool looking out onto the road, not round the back where it’s more private. Today, though, I’ve realised that if there was a garden at the front, they simply wouldn’t have found the house after six months of ample rain and Spanish sunshine.
I always thought that the hundred years that the forest had to grow in the story of Sleeping Beauty wasn’t very long; just how bad could things get in a garden in a century?
But the weeds here are shoulder-high after just a few months, and I imagine other outlying properties where the owners dare not leave their garden tools behind when they return to the city as they know they will need them to find the front door when their next holiday comes round.
I also have this vision of the handsome prince who came galloping by leaping down from his horse and plunging into the enchanted forest wielding a cordless strimmer.