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The stomp of affections

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

There are smiles, tenderness and contentment. There is a tranquillity that blends well with the Sun of a Sunday morning.

Sunday morning. Bright sunny morning, mild temperature for the time of year. 13 December 2021. “Quinta do Pisão”, a 380 ha nature park in Cascais, owned by the Municipality.

A pisão (stomp) is a device for treading or flattening wool to the proper consistency. The name came about because, in ancient times, this farm had been used to work wool.

Now, it's a nature park, "internationally considered a case study in the conservation of nature and biodiversity, and the development of responsible tourism as a contribution to the health and well-being of the population".

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the “Quinta do Pisão” was a refuge of mental sanity for those who came here to be outdoors and provide an unmasked space for children any day of the week and adults to relax.

On this sunny Sunday, we met four couples from Sintra. Together they had not been for two years.

Three of the couples are between 30 and 40 years old. Four children, two twins of 3 years old, two others of 4 and 6 years old. The fourth couple is sexagenarian. They belonged to an amateur theatre group, directed by their teacher, now in her sixties.

There are memories of many experiences spent together since adolescence. Now they have young children, different professions.

There are tight embraces with a good deal of emotion. Face turned to the side, no mask. They are vaccinated, almost all of them.

They talk about the babies, the anguish of confinement, health, the kids' pranks.

The subject of vaccination is only touched on. There are different ways of thinking among these four couples concerning vaccines. So, the topic is skirted around, a likely focus of disagreements. There is no talk of politics either, nor significant national or international agenda issues. Talk, rather, of what unites these Portuguese, the affections, the children.

They are extreme and attentive parents. There is a pregnancy announced and already visible in the womb that stands out. There are smiles, tenderness and contentment. There is a tranquillity that blends well with the Sun of a Sunday morning.

When lunch arrives, there is an intense hunger, and a restaurant is organized. Two couples go home. The other two go to a restaurant. Brazilian bean stew is the main dish of a buffet or self-service restaurant. For 9 euros, you can fill your plate as many times as your stomach allows.

At the door, you can check the validity of vaccination certificates. Mobile phones come with an NHS (National Health Service) application that shows the certificate. The waitress in the restaurant has an application on her device that checks the validity. All right, vaccinated, you can go in.

The food is delicious. At a safe distance, a guitar plays at a nearby table, accompanying a man with this accent, which comes, sweet and melodic, from the other side of the Atlantic. The song speaks of Jesus, who teaches us to trust and love.

The meal is over, another excuse to spend some time together. The body is nourished, the spirit is warmed, and the soul is appeased.

The friendliness is repeated once a month. Even if they don't all come, we must resume the rituals of getting together, now more outdoors.

But before leaving the restaurant, you must make sure the child has to pee. The micturition ritual is carried out, with some resistance on the part of the child. But there are always stratagems that overcome the fragile resistance of a four-year-old.

More tight hugs. With a whole heart and an overflowing stomach, we set off for home.

In the past, the wool was tucked in, making it dense and guaranteeing that the burel would cosy up and protect the body from the cold. But an encounter between our people, whether with or without pandemic, is a stomp that brings different consistencies.

And the Sun continues to give colour to this Sunday.

The Sun is also a stomp for souls.

© Eduardo Rui Alves

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