THE GOATHERD, THE WRITER, HIS WIFE AND THEIR CITROEN DS - part 4.


Gilbert puts the worn and dusty boots into a shady spot and goes back to the pick-up to get the canisters. The sun is high and he pushes the hat forward to cover his eyes. As he approaches the spring he notices that the outlet of the trough in front of the spring is blocked and the trough itself is overflowing. A cloud of wasps hovers above the surface and Gilbert's skin gooses. A cold shiver runs through him. Gilbert doesn't think that he is frightened of wasps but they do make him cringe. These wasps are his least favourite - the ones with the articulated bodies and the dangling legs (Note for those interested: Gilberts bete noir here is the European paper wasp ). It is the clean, running water that draws them to the spring and the hotter the day the more wasps gather and today is a very hot day - the 6th in a row. Gilbert fans the cloud of wasps away from the trough with his hat and notices that the sweat band is black with sweat. He bends, scoops up a hatful of the cold clear water and tips it over his head. He rubs his eyes clear, steps tentatively into the trough itself and starts filling the first of three canisters - an 8 liter red one. The cloud of wasps however has reformed and hovers but a foot away.

Gilbert stays perfectly still until the canister is full at which point he screws the top on and hastily lights a cigarette. The wasp cloud moves off left slightly and Gilbert sighs and begins to fill another canister. While he fills, he smokes. He is filling the last canister when a shadow falls into his peripheral vision. He looks around and sees a tall, bearded Sfakian coming toward him. He drops the cigarette in surprise and squints at the ambling figure approaching from the churchyard. He has been here long enough to know to treat all Sfakians with respect.