Spring has finally arrived here in Portugal and most would say for the third time this year. Although I have another, altogether different theory about the changing of temperature patterns, I'll get with Al Gore on it later.
Strangely enough, we have a mini season that today I entitle “wring.” You know – winter, spring – wring. It's like brunch, which is neither breakfast nor lunch, and at times can be extremely weird and rather effeminate. It, that is wring, normally occurs from the middle of February until the middle of April. During which neither cold nor hot dominate, and according to my family, if the work week begins with rain, it will continue until Saturday when it will suddenly turn warm and sunny and will remain thus throughout the weekend. If the contrary occurs on Monday, all sunshine and beauty; undoubtedly rain will begin sometime late Friday evening and successfully ruin any plans for sidewalk chalk or peanut butter and jelly picnics.
This year though wring has officially wrung and we are moving into spummer. Just kidding. We'll keep calling it spring although it is hot enough now to be summer, especially with the only air conditioning we possess being a box fan. How do I know that it is officially spring and no longer wring? By the signs, my friend. The signs.
In our little village beyond any doubt, we know that wring has wrung when we see grandpas driving tractors down the main roads. They know it is time to prepare the land for spring planting so they perch their 70 year old wives who appear to be not a day less than 95 on the wheel well of the tractor and back traffic up for kilometers. No self respecting Portuguese farmer would go anywhere on his tractor without his wife bouncing precariously next to him. Here, there are no trophy wives. Instead we have tractor wives. The appearance of tractor related traffic is the first major sign of wring, with the second following as a definite result of the first.
All the tilling and preparation of ground naturally invites unwelcome visitors to maddeningly encircle each room of every home. I call them manure flies because I am persuaded that they are spawned from the dark, foul, gelatinous mess that all of the aforementioned farmers use to enrich their fertile soil. The flies seemingly never land, revolve around an imaginary vortex in the middle of the room, and are at times slow enough to bat to the ground with a bare hand. As quickly as one can kill them, they reappear. Ah, the mysteries of Portuguese farming culture.
What's the third and final sign of wring? I'm not quite sure what to call them, so we'll just say, “high-water pants.” They are exactly like those capri pants that women wear in the States, only in our part of Europe, the men wear them. They are often white, worn with flip-flops, and do more harm to gender separation than anything I have seen since the man-bra. However, and gladly, they are only seen after wring ends.
I guess it is fitting that they are worn at the end of wring because like their appropriate mini-season, they are neither one thing nor the another. Maybe a better name would be ports?
Written by Michael Andrzejewski