Every summer, swallows nest high on the front of our house. I love to watch them wheel and dive. Unfortunately, they tend to make a big mess on the front stairs, railing, driveway and garage door. Even though it happens every year and I always complain about cleaning up the mess, I don't have the heart to knock the nests down.

It's usually very obvious, especially in the warmer months, that we are not Spanish. We don't keep the same schedules, we have people over a lot; It's harder to hide that in summer when the whole neighborhood is outdoors. This (and pretty much everything about us)Learns us the scorn and disgust of our neighbor. He has come to complain about guitar playing, carpet- cleaning during his daughter's nap, the dog barking, and people parking in front of his house. A couple of weeks ago he told a couple of people off (who had just come out of our house) for sitting on the grass in front of our house. Apparently that grass is only for looking at! Who knows if that is really a rule or simply his law.

Anyway, both these stories have a point. This morning I was being a good "Maruja" (what Spaniards call a good housewife,) mopping our front stairs to get the bird mess off. (I still need to do the driveway and the garage door). An older woman came by with her small bag of groceries. When she saw me mopping, she stopped and bestowed me with a beaming smile. With heart-felt pleasure, she said "Que gusto! La juventud..." (What a pleasure. Youth...) I am not sure if she meant the pleasure was mine or hers. Either way. My mop earned me a rare moment of feeling completely at home and welcome in the Spanish culture. That is a feeling I don't feel too often. I will be savoring it as long as I can.

And maybe I will mop my stairs about the time my neighbor is due home!

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