Saturday, 26 May 2007
Hike Of Terror!!!
For years when we lived together in America Paddy and I took long, up-to-20-mile hikes on Saturday or Sunday. We decided today to do one of those, just to get out and "get the stink blown off." It was an excellent idea, good for body and soul and relationship, too.
We put Una The Wander Dog in the fergoneta and drove about 12K to Calzada del Coto, a crummy little one-sheep camino town west of Sahagun. From there we hiked to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, an even more crummy and isolated town. It's about 6 kilometers each way, and follows the Via Trajana, a Roman Road. It's now an alternate path for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, but few pilgrims use it because there's so much space between villages, it's lonely, and there's not a lot out there.
Unless, of course, your eyes are open. The recent rains have made the landscape positively lush; the wheat is fully formed, the oaks are dusty green, the ditches are flooded with caramel-colored water and little singing frogs. I am not a flower person, (unless you feel like sending me some! hint hint) but the display of wildflowers out there is staggering. But for the fabulous poppies I can't name them, but I can list the colors: bright blue, dark blue, purple, red, yellow, white, and orange. And if you look very closely, some tiny bright pink ones, right against the ground. No landscaper could achieve this if he tried, and here it is, just springing up along the roadside, acres of color! The cuckoos sing background.
And when we walk, we talk. Somehow, even though we live together all the time, we have to get out into the wide open to get a fresh perspective on one another and what we are doing together. Delicious and healthy, that. When we got to Calzadilla we sat down on the patio of a nice little pilgrim stop and had bread and cheese and a beer. The sky started darkening as we snacked. The dog was restless, ready to keep going. "Tormentas!" the barmaid warned. We skeedaddled back.
Going back is always so much quicker, and with the huge, wide horizon filled up with steel-gray thunderheads we hoofed it pretty quick. (Una took the time to kill a mouse, however. For every kilometer we walk, she runs 2 or 3, digging up critters in between.) It started looking like we were going to be drenched soon, as we could see one huge, hard cloud open up its belly to the southwest and pour water down onto the earth.
...and on the leading edge of the cloud a long, grey finger uncurled and dropped down, very slowly, toward the ground.
Another, smaller little pointy bit pointed down farther along. They're not supposed to have tornados in Spain!
I did some growing up in Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, and Colorado, and as a reporter I covered plenty of tornados. I have heard a tornado (from the safe place underneath my parents' bed), but I never saw one...I always kinda wanted to, though. Even though they terrify me! We were standing out on the plain, a good hour and a half from the nearest shelter. The wind wasn't even blowing where we stood, the storm was still a good way off. I was amazed, but not scared. Part of me still couldn't believe what I was seeing... I thought I left this behind!
A merry group of three Spanish pilgrims came our way, commenting on the weird cloud. They snapped its picture. They weren't scared at all, and they patted me on the back and asked me if I was from Kansas. Meantime, the cloud-finger curled up, then went groundward again, and then just sort of dissolved into the mass of oncoming rain. It never made it to the ground, so I suppose it was, technically, just a funnel cloud.
It was one of the most amazing natural wonders I've seen, ever! I wish I'd brought my camera, for wildflower pictures. And for that wild sky, just to prove I'm not making this up!
(the picture above is from earlier this year, another strange sky day on the camino outside our village. The skies around here are huge and forever changing... I have never seen so many rainbows as I've seen in the past year.)