Of parasols and scorpions

A few days ago, walking back from Finestrat with Matilde, I saw a large canvas parasol dumped at the side of the road, down a steep slope. We were not far from home and I thought it worth retrieving. Matilde was wearing the pack saddle so the parasol could fit nicely on the croisillon (the wooden cross piece of the pack saddle). This was exactly what I needed to create the shady spot under the fig tree where the donkeys feed, and protect the fig tree from the donkeys, who otherwise will eat the fruit, the leaves, the branches and the bark on the trunk.

The problem was that there was nowhere to tie the lead rope while I scrambled down the slope to retrieve the parasol. Matilde began to show an interest in the weeds at the side of the road, so I thought she was reasonably settled. I slid down the slope and struggled up with the parasol. As I arrived at the level of the road with the parasol, Matilde took one look at the thing creeping out of the ravine and panicked, having never been stalked by a large parasol before. She ran off up the road towards home, leaving me to struggle along carrying the heavy wood and canvas parasol.

It is a very quiet road, so I was not too concerned, knowing she would stop and wait as soon as she was back at her field and could see Rubi. The only worry was that she might meet a car coming down the hill and scratch the bodywork or damage the mirrors with her saddlebags. Luckily, nothing came down the hill and I arrived at home with the parasol to find Matilde giving me her ‘What kept you?’ look, and waiting to have the gate opened.

Little did I suspect that the parasol contained a dangerous stowaway, as I carried it through the house and left it on the tiled patio at the back of the house. A couple of days later, I finally got around to the repairs. I extended the parasol to see what state it was in. As I opened it I came within a hair’s breadth of dropping a scorpion on my head!

It was the most frightening thing that has happened since I moved in here. I have known for a while that there are scorpions around here, but this was the first I have seen. It was about eight to ten centimetres long and had a vicious looking sting in its tail. The thought that it might have landed on my head as I put up the parasol gave me scary dreams all night! I have no photo of the scorpion. I killed it there and then, not wanting it scurrying off to lurk somewhere else in my house.

Now the donkeys are enjoying the new shady spot, the tree is grateful to be protected from the donkeys, and neither donkeys nor tree fully appreciate my heroism battling with scorpions to achieve this arrangement.
The blog will contain some reports of the spectacular local fiesta in Vilajoiosa over the next few days. This is the annual Cristianos y Moros event, where the battle between Christian and Islamic forces here is celebrated annually with exciting costume parades and a re-enactment of the Islamic forces’ disembarcation on the beach. I shall be taking photographs and putting them on the blog, but have decided not to take donkeys to Vilajoiosa, as originally planned, because they might be startled by fireworks and worried by the crowds. They will just have to be content with seeing the website, which you can also see here http://www.desembarco.com.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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One Response to Of parasols and scorpions

  1. Wonky Pilgrim says:

    Just thought I’d better say something in praise of the Spanish workforce; brandy in one’s morning coffee is commendable!

    Gareth, I want to ask you if what drives you is knowable/teachable? I think what you have achieved is totally amazing and I wish I was half as driven as you!

    Have a peaceful, sunny, enjoyable holiday.

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