When I moved here I assumed hat villagers were extremely environmentally friendly. Everywhere I looked nature was doing its job being green, ridiculously so at times. Just when I thought things couldn’t turn any greener, it always did.
It took me a while to figure out that the villagers weren’t environmentally friendly at all; nature simply excels at covering up for mankind. Possibly out of embarrassment for the creatures who supposedly have evolved above plant status; let’s green it over.
The villagers didn’t know any better, I told myself. And it’s actually not that bad, they told me when I asked them why they sprayed their vineyards blue in summer. It was only copper sulfate. That didn’t really do any damage. It’s was biological. Sort of. And yes they had to spray against the Colorado beetle but everyone did. Otherwise there were no potatoes. There was also little time to weed the maize fields so ok, they also used herbicide.
But they were nice people. They didn’t mean to harm nature. They were just old.
What truly shocked me though was when I noticed that things had been dumped in the forest. Partially degraded mattresses, building materials, tiles, glass, plastic bags.
Not even covered up, just dumped at the side of the path where I walked.
Who would do such a thing? Not people from my village obviously.
Now it made sense why at times I saw the white vans of the gypsies driving up that lane: to check for scrap metal of course.
Villager C offers to help me move the two hundred or so empty wine bottles. We bought the house of her, it belonged to her parents, they stored the bottles in the bodega, the cool place underneath the house. Some bottles are still full. According to villager J, Tonta, the village idiot who was also the village alcoholic, had the habit of nicking the odd bottle when no one was watching, before we moved in.
We open and try some of the remaining bottles but unfortunately we don’t find ourselves sitting on a vintage red wine goldmine. It tastes positively like mud.
“We’ll just get the tractor and load it in the trailer one of the days, and we’ll take it into the forest.” Villager C says. Something must have gone lost in translation so I asked her to repeat, but she says the same thing.
“Dump in the forest? But you can’t do that!”
“Everyone does.” comes the reply.
Not willing to fall out entirely with my lovely friend Villager C, I tell her I’d get rid of the bottles myself.
Out on my daily walk into the hills I notice a big pile of old doors and window sills at the side of the path, not even dumped in a ditch. It must have happened a few days ago.
A week or so later I walk by again, a 4 by 4 parked on the side, an elderly man walking nearby. I know him, quite a prominent figure in the bigger village. He demands if I know who has dumped that pile there and I answer too quickly that I have no idea. He scowls. The council would fine him a lot for this if they think it’s his, he says, as this piece of forest is his.
Maybe someone doesn’t like him, I think later, and they had dumped all that on purpose on his plot of land.
The next time I walk past, a couple of days later, I noticed he’s moved the lot a few metres away, at the exact spot where the path forms a t- junction.
It’s not unlike a modern art installation, in one way it looks so prominently out-of-place, this heap of old doors and half-smashed windows, that it actually seems like it belongs there.
It has endless symbolic story possibilities and all that brokeness is lying there in the middle of a t-junction.
I’d go so far as it being comforting.
The wood will slowly rot away over the years. I’ll notice it every time I will walk past. But the glass will remain. Sharp as ever. A cutting reminder.