Summer in the mountains is a world apart: Here, the air is thick with smells of moist earth, acacia and wild honeysuckle. On a cloudless day, the light is clear and shimmering, the night sky a cascade of stars.
There is no ambient urban glow, no hum of passing traffic. Instead, the background is a warble of finches and yellow tails, the cooing of a woodpigeon, the insistent cawing of a hawk. And as twilight falls the gentle buzzing of crickets floats up from the high grass.
The other blessing is that the mountains force you to unplug. Mountains are anti technology; things just don’t work very well up here: There is Internet of sorts, apparently over a satellite, but blissfully spotty. And telephones? Smart phones seem to overtax the system, so most people stick with the old flip jobs that don’t try to do too much – no irritating apps, beeps or message alerts. A Facebook free zone. If and when a call does come through, you stand very still, hardly breathing, cupping your ear over the speaker to catch every crackle. Better to text. Or use the land-line, which country people know is the only thing you can really count on.
So what happens? People talk to each other. They drop in for coffee. They write out invoices by hand. And most work gets scheduled by the weather. From the stone terrace, as clouds gather, you can see a storm coming from across the valley. And you are reminded, indelibly, that with all our human invention, nature is still in charge.