In the margins of each other's life
Clara Paulino remembers a childhood love affair amidst the last years of Salazar's Portugal @ Lost Magazine.
The grapes hang from the vine, full, ready, but my father can no longer drive up the Marão mountains to get a few baskets of them: an autumnal ritual, the remains of a centuries-old way of life which included a wine farm in northern Portugal.In my family's memory there is only an end to this story; the mythical beginning lives on in a fog of deeds and letters, some lost, others too faded to read, all dating to the late 17th century. Down the generations came the terraced mountainsides covered in braids of vineyard stalks and branches, the corn fields in the lower lands, closer to the river, the orchards bordering clusters of granite dwellings, grey and earth-toned, invisible to a stranger's eye. With it came laborers, gamekeepers, vineyard pruners, and wine pressers whose legs moved up and down to millenary rhythms.In my lifetime we moved up there every summer from the big bustling city of Porto, from the good schools, from my mother's practice as a psychoanalyst, from my father's boardroom management he carried on via couriers. Not long after we arrived the peace of the mountains began to inhabit each one of us and my memory of a life filled with school, piano and ballet lessons receded like a bad dream. I roamed barefoot on the hills, swam in the river, watched the boys kill tiny fish with pebbles and helped the young girls wash their families' clothes with hard soap, beating them rhythmically on the smooth river stones. I learned to feed cows, donkeys and pigs with vegetable peels and fruit fallen from the trees, and came to know well the inside of thatched huts: one bed, one mattress on the floor, two or three stools, and an iron pot in a twig fire in the corner of the room.read more