Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.
This is the story of my old friend and previous neighbour I truly respect and admire…
She waved to a neighbour looking after her horses.
Another neighbour drove toward his winery. There was a new nursery that had opened, where people stopped to buy plants. And then there was the Manor House.
She remembered the plot of land with a lot of trees, and the grazing goats that her old neighbour had liked so much. But then she'd died. An old Englishman moved in, working day and night to build the stone mansion with his own hands, slowly, patiently, brick by brick. Lawn slowly appeared at the front, and then a stony road lined by trees. He was old and wrinkled, and the people on her road wondered where he got his strength from. But his enthusiasm was unmatched, and the neighbours slowly warmed to his idea and came to give him a hand. She was there as he struggled with the limestone boulders at the back of his newly built, majestic residence. “Build your own Pinnacles,” she suggested, and he did, digging the ground around them. When it was all finished, the neighbours were invited to high tea with the old English owner and his wife. It was a close knit, rural community and they depended on each other, especially after the fire a decade ago that had destroyed a few houses and damaged the wildlife park that was there, back then. The neighbours chipped in to rebuild it, but it had gone now. And then the English lord, as his neighbours had nicknamed him in good spirit, died. The property was sold to someone rich from Perth who never lived in it, just using it for commercial purposes. Their road changed then.
The arrival of cars gathering on the big lawn of the Manor House down the road, roused her from her daydream.
She stopped at the hen house to collect a few eggs that she'd promised her neighbour, who stopped near the fence to collect them.
“They're doing high tea now,” the neighbour pointed to the English residence: “Fundraising of some sort.” She nodded and he waved and rode off. Nothing that concerned them. She turned to walk back to her house, thinking that her old fence needs repairing again, when she noticed a pair of lorikeets playing in the bird bath that she'd used to replace a broken fence post with. She loved the birds that visited her orchard and she shared harvest her with them. There was enough for all of them, even the macadamia nuts that the parrots loved so much.
She was walking back to her veranda, when the screeching sound of a braking car caught her attention. When she turned, she realised in horror that cars parked along her fenceline, had knocked over her bird bath and cracked her old fence posts. Before she'd managed to walk over there, the families ran excitedly toward the mansion to enjoy their high tea. She decided to follow them, noting that her grass had been ruined by the tyres of their big four wheel drives. There were cars everywhere and people ran up to the mansion’s gate. She stopped among them, looking up the lane now lined with tall trees, toward the Manor house that she remembered being built slowly brick by brick for many years. What would the old Englishman who'd build it, think about the crowds rushing in for high tea now?
She decided to walk up the lane, jostled by people who were excited to enter as they rushed toward the majestic staircase. She stopped in front of one of the few tents on the lawn, where an important looking older lady, wearing a volunteer's badge, looked her up and down: “This is an invitation only event, with some of the proceeds going toward saving pets.”
“I'm just a neighbour. I wanted to talk to someone about your guests, who're parking on my lawn...
“Well, if you don’t like it, then move out. Find a quieter road to live on...
This is a place for big functions, you see. The next one will be the day after tomorrow. The self-important volunteer turned her back to welcome the paid guests, as the old woman shuffled back to where she'd come from, shaking her head: “This road is all that I know. It's my home.”
She went back to her house, watching the cars next to her old fence fill up with people after their high tea, leaving tyre marks on her lawn, her birdbath shattered and the fence posts askew. She was watching those people who were happy to be out and about after the lockdown, thinking to herself, do they even notice where they park? Do they care? Or they are like the staff and volunteers and probably the new owners of that magnificent Manor House that her old friend and neighbour had built, once upon a time? Are they oblivious to other people's properties nearby?