False alarm

LAST UPDATED: 5 Jun, 2012 @ 14:18
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False alarm

PROVISIONS arrived daily in small white vans which wended their way down to our village.

They announced their arrival to the villagers by hooting furiously during their entire descent into the valley, ceasing only when they reached the square.

Bethina, starched apron crackling, marched me along to introduce me to the delights of buying from the back of these vans.

Bread, fish, vegetables and fruit, all fresh, all local. On Sundays, delicious cakes came with the bread.

One afternoon we were taking a siesta when we were woken by urgent loudspeaker announcements. Joe leaped out of bed in terror.

“It’s an earthquake warning!” he gasped.

An earthquake?

We knew earthquakes had occurred in this area in the past; we had that ugly, jagged crack in our living room as evidence.

I sat up in alarm. Personally, I never thought about earthquakes, but Joe had often voiced his worries.

“Quick, get the valuables, we may have to move fast!” he ordered, pulling on his shorts (inside out).

He crashed out of the house and raced towards the square and the source of the commotion.

Valuables? What valuables? Fuzzy from sleep, I couldn’t think clearly.

What did one do in an earthquake? Drive away from it? Head for high ground? I didn’t know. This was not a problem we ever encountered in West Sussex.

I dressed quickly, grabbed my precious portrait of Great Aunt Elsa, and was heading for the front door when Joe returned.

He was looking rueful and carrying a crate.

“What was it?” I asked, still clutching Great Aunt Elsa.

“A van. Selling peaches.”

“Not an earthquake warning?”

“No.”

“Oh. What’s in the crate?”

“Peaches.”

“Peaches? A whole crate? How ever many did you get?”

“Four euros’ worth. That’s all I had in my pocket.”

“But there must be 40 peaches in there! How are we going to eat so many peaches?”

“Don’t know. But when I ran into the square, all the ladies thought I was desperate for peaches. They all stood aside in the queue and let me go first. So I had to buy some.”

“But why buy a whole crate?”

“I showed him my four euros, and that’s what he gave me.”

We feasted on peaches for days, but couldn’t finish them. The fruit flies soon attacked, and we had to throw the rest away.

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