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The Easter of my Childhood on Mount

Monte do Carvalhal, 31 de Março 2021

It seems like yesterday, that Spring was smiling in Easter time here in Monte, with my Grandparents António Burrico and Grandma Maria...

The singing of birds, the shallow fields of water, the smell of flowers that covered the green land around, with yellow, purple, white and red mottled across the plain, poppies dancing in the afternoon breeze.

The blue clock rang early, grandfather always brought it religiously from the fireplace to the bedroom and wound it up, to remind him at 06:00 that it was time to do the work. Sometimes I would wake up with the sound of dry olive branches that he would break to light the fire in the morning.

I still have his scent, so familiar, so present in Alma's memory. Monte's grandmother told me to stay a little longer, that it was still early and that it was cold, but I slipped my galoshes over my pajamas and ran after her, Grandpa had already gone to feed the Mule. It was time to fill the iron pot with water, which was used for everything here at home – Grandfather's shave, filling the basin for washing his face and for lunch.

There was no time to lose in the morning, feeding the chicks, the ducks, the hens, the weaklings. Barley-glazed basins were filled for them, who were already waiting. And I, happy that I was going to open them with Grandma and throw open the door of the henhouse and make way for the animals to scatter through the streets of the hill, happy that they were free to roam... But the best part was yet to come. to arrive.

The grandmother filled glass bottles with the yellow flour from the can and the hot water from the pan, shook it, put the teat on and said to me:”_ Take this one to give to the little lamb.” And there I went, with them in my hand, happy and singing. She would open the door of the “malhada” where the lambs were, and there she would put 1 or 2 on her lap to give them the “Xuxa”. And they already knew, with their tail giving and sucking the morning's milk. Such beautiful memories of the sweet smell of the lambs' wet noses, the tenderness of hugging them - I miss them so, so much...

Then we would arrest the adult lambs there to eat fresh grass. The grandmother lassoed the animals' legs and attached the rope to a mallet that she stuck in the ground, and how many times did I get stuck up to my knees from running after her...

One of those mornings, the gentleman who was going to shear the sheep was expected, with his leather suit and iron scissors, too big for my hands. And I was mesmerized to see such meticulous work, with hands already calloused from years of Shearing. She thought that by removing the wool, the sheep would be stripped of their warm clothes, but I soon realized that it was really necessary.

Those were beautiful days, the ones that passed many springs on Monte... Grandfather asked if he wanted to go with him to fetch water from the well, near Ribeira, nobody said Guadiana river, it was Ribeira, who knows... And off we went us, in the Water cart, a flask on top of the cart, a huge enameled funnel, buckets and ropes, this is how the water was collected to fill the Talha under the Oliveira tree in front of the house and the 2 large clay jugs that they gave us a drink with the cork trough, still carved by my great-grandfather Luís Pastor, whom I never met.

Water, so vital, and even more so at that time, when nothing was cultivated that wasn't rainfed. Grandfather sowed Melon, Peas, Broad Beans, Barley, Wheat, Grains and, close to the house, small rows of Lettuce, Coriander, Tomato, Pepper and little else, since there was not enough water to water. Baths, only on Sundays and the rest of the week, a large basin did the trick. Those were different times, but they also taught me the importance of small things.

Grandmother kneaded the bread for the week (I never ate bread like hers again, kneaded in a huge clay bowl), the Popias, the “Passarinho no Ninho” cakes (which she straightened with scissors to make the feathers on them), the Pandegos to fry, the Puff Cakes and even the Pão-de-Ló that she made in a mold on the stove, even more so at Easter.

Normally, when we came here, lunch on Aleluia Sunday was at Aunt Leonor and Uncle Jorge's house in Moura, with my parents, Manuel & Mina, cousins Ana and Sandra. Grandpa Donkey loved this season! A table full of stories and conversation... And what a table. There was no shortage of Roasted Lamb or Ensopado, Sheep Cheese, Sausage, Cracklings, colored lard, and Auntie always had Curd Cheese Cake, Almond Manjar and Sweet Piglet. And of course, the Spanish caramels with pine nuts for Grandpa, who he loved!

In the times we live in, with the absence of the Grandparents and the impossibility of being together, I fondly remember moments that I shared and that I keep in my heart. Perhaps we cannot repeat them, but perpetuate them, in the memory and in the preparation of some of the dishes that were prepared at the time, so that we never lose the Traditions, which connect us and bind us to the Love that we carry within us.

I had the privilege of having lived this time in the Alentejo and Beira-Baixa for many years, I also lived a truly happy childhood, I never forget my Grandparents and I am grateful for what I received from them. I miss them, yes, I wish I could hug them, but if Easter is a Rebirth for life, then they are reborn in me whenever it happens and they remain with me in my heart, today and always.

Wishes for a Holy and Happy Easter to all, here on Monte, where I live today, in what used to be the Casa dos Avós, between Moura and the Pedrogão dam and, where I am happy to receive our Guests at Casa das Oliveiras, Casa da Mina and Casa da Rita, in ours and also yours, little piece of Heaven.

We wait for you and we welcome those who visit us, from Soul and Heart.

Well done.


Donkey D'Orada


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