At some point while we were in Morocco, spring officially arrived in Lisbon. The trees are all leafed out now, whereas before they were just starting to show the first signs of leaf buds. The swallows we first saw in Fez have also made their way north to Lisbon, and the evenings are filled with clouds of them, swooping and darting high above the rooftops. The women have finally put away their boots and thick down coats, and now appear in skirts and low shoes, although they still haven’t passed that mysterious marker that permits them to start wearing sandals.

Of course with the warm weather comes the tourists, and almost every other group of people you see on the main streets are very clearly foreign. We saw a lot in Morocco, too — there’s something very disgruntling about having a tour bus drive through the midst of your exotic adventure. Sigh.

To celebrate the advent of spring and the warmer weather I’ve been waiting for since, oh, November, we spent the evening outside barbecuing. To prepare for this occasion, we wandered down the street of fruterias, picking up supplies at a succession of little stores. One had peppers but no zucchini, the next had strawberries but no veggies. And so on. We also got a box of mixed cookies to bring along too, which the man assured us were delicious and baked on the premises. (In the end, they were both of those things.)

After all that work foraging, we stopped for a cold drink at the cafe in the park, where my favorite flapper waitress was wearing a shirt with Betty Boop on it, a short jean skirt, tights with cherries, and Keds with strawberries on them. She never lets me down.

We also saw the same wrinkly Sharpei puppy that I’d spotted from our friend J’s balcony last month — I figured surely there can’t be two such puppies in that neighborhood. He looked at us with his goofy face and stoned-looking eyes, and we laughed at his antics as he tried repeatedly to reach his owners, who were sitting at the table next to us. He kept getting his leg wrapped up in his leash, which was tethered to the fence, and would get frustrated and turn around to attack whatever this stupid thing was that was holding him back. Of course that resulted in his getting even more tangled in the leash, and the cycle continued. It was hilarious.

Continuing up the hill, we arrived at our friend J’s house, who recently purchased a barbeque to put out on his small balcony. We offered up the results of our collective foraging in return for a few glasses of his excellent wine, and we all spent a lovely evening perched out on the balcony, eating grilled fish, steaks, and veggies along with salad, strawberries, cheese, and of course the cookies for dessert. We watched the city slowly fade from bright sunlight into night, with dramatic streaks of cloud painted across the sunset. The lights of the valley below us came on gradually, and the swallows and bats came out to hunt their own meals just as we finished ours.

It was a perfect evening, the first one warm enough to allow us to sit outside until late. I hope there will be many to follow.

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