The grass was thin and sparse beneath the mimosa tree. Not all what Sylvia was used to, but she gladly sipped a glass of fresh lemonade as she sank into the lounge chair. She relaxed, watching a pair of tufted titmice play hide-and-seek with the family cat, Ginger.
The little tuft of feathers on the gray and white head appeared slightly disheveled as the birds flitted back and forth across the garden to the front porch, sneaking morsels from Ginger’s food bowl, as she catnapped next to Sylvia. Their antics made Sylvia smile. They were quite brave to steal a drink from Ginger’s water dish, and one of them tried taking a dip in the bowl. Sylvia laughed aloud, quite sure Ginger would not be amused to have her water dish used as a birdbath.
Sylvia enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her face, breathing in the fresh mountain air. The mountains in Virginia made her feel nostalgic for her mountains back in Portugal. The mountains always held a strange appeal for her, having lived near the sea her entire life.
In Cacela Velha, the sea was the main attraction. Sylvia loved sitting out on the hill in the early morning, watching the activity on the beach as the fishing boats went out. Fishing was the main industry of the village and her brothers were all fishermen. They loved being out on the sea in their boats. Sylvia helped her parents in the family restaurant in the village. They were known for serving the best seafood, prepared fresh from the daily catch.
Eyes closed and wind slightly ruffling her dark curls, Sylvia could smell the ocean breeze. With the taste of fresh lemonade still on her lips, she fancied she could taste the salt sprays from the bay of Ria Formosa, while sitting next to the Cacela Velha Fortress.
Today, the sprays carried a lemonade flavor. Before long, Sylvia was asleep dreaming about her husband, George, and Uncle Matt on their fishing trip down the French Broad River in Tennessee.
Uncle Matt and his fishing buddies had persuaded George to come try fishing their way, as a sport instead of an occupation. It would have been a fun experience, but unfortunately it was an all-men excursion. They had loaded their fishing and camping gear into the back of Uncle Matt’s Chevy pickup. They’d left before sunup on Friday morning.
Lydia quietly studied her sleeping niece in the lounge chair. It was nice to have family visit. She remembered her childhood days back home in Cacela Velha, with her sister Elaina roaming the village and walking barefoot along the shore.
Sylvia had brought gifts, hats and gaily embroidered shirts, along with custom-made jewelry from a local jeweler. Sylvia reminded her so much of her sister Elaina. It had been nearly thirty years since she had last seen her sister. Lidia drew Elaina’s letter from her pocket and slowly read it once more, savoring each word.
I take great joy in writing to you. I am sending lots of pictures with Sylvia. See the new restaurant? And the new hotel in the village? You would never guess who the new manager of the Quinta Da Ria is-none other than our brother Eduardo! With the new hotel in town, he closed the family inn and took the job as manager. The old place is still home for the family, so any time you decide to visit, there will be plenty of extra room…
Lydia smiled as she continued to read.
It is quite lovely this time of the year, as you will remember. And you won’t have to worry about storms…
She remembered the storms, like the one before she had left home. The one that had almost taken the life of Eduardo and her husband Matt, one unforgettable night. Memories of long sunshine-filled days and warm nights listening to the wind howling and the waves crashing on the shore. Or the sound of a storm whipping up the waters and sending fear through the heart of anyone who’s loved ones were not safely home from the sea.
There were so many questions, so many years to catch up! Lydia hesitated, but there would be lots of time later. For now, she sighed softly, gazing upwards into the canopy of mimosa blossoms. Storms of life would pass and the sunshine would banish the darkness, today, through the leaves, the blue sky held a promise for a beautiful tomorrow.
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