Tuesday, 22 January 2008
A Hard Day´s "Community Building"
The last post carried on into this one like clockwork. We indeed trimmed trees, and stacked up switches, and bound them into bundles custom-shaped to pitch neatly into a glory-hole under-floor furnace. We grabbed three bundles before they vanished... it was a firewood free-for-all there for a little while! Hard work, best shared among many. I figure we all dance under these trees in August, so it´s only fair we all help trim them back and maintain them in January. (In America we´d call it a "community-building exercise" and apply for a grant. The crafts vendors would follow quickly.)
In the wintertime you can really see how tortured are the plane trees of Spain´s plazas. They have to chop down all the year´s new branches so the trees will somehow grow "flat and together and leafy." I think they´d be a lot more leafy if they left them alone, but what do I know from plane trees?
I do know how to snip roses back, though, and luckily I brought along our nice secateurs. You´re only supposed to trim roses on Three Kings day, I was told, but somehow the little garden in the Plaza was overlooked. (Like the rose bushes in our patio. I gotta trim them too!)So I did do something useful. The rest of the event was a hair-raising display of ´boys and their toys,´ featuring five ladders, two front-end loaders, a huge bale of straw, two kinds of chainsaws, three hacksaws, four hatchets and an ax. No blood was shed, but Estebanito got a poke in the eye from a falling branch, and Pin went away mad after a shouting match over which chainsaw is the most dangerous. (I am glad it did not get beyond the shouting stage, what with all those sharp instruments around. Spaniards are very loud, but they´re not, generally speaking, violent.)
The best part came hours later, after our backs got a chance to realize what we had been asking of them. It was 8 or so PM, and the fog came back with the dark. We took the car over to the plaza, to better make our getaway. (I was feeling poorly.) Lights were blazing, but no one was in the house on the corner, the one where all the gatherings happen. We heard noises, though, and followed them into the dark.
And there in the soft night shone a fuzzy oblong of orange light -- a half-open bodega door, with a laughing Edu silhouetted within. This merienda was a classic Castillian bodega bash, a soft spot of warm light in the foggy dark.
The Milagros have one of the finest bodegas in town, dug deep and high and wide into the hill with a big fireplace, a long trestle table, and vats of wine all around. The three electric bulbs are powered via a precarious system involving jumper cables and the house next door. On the fire were racks of lamb chops and red peppers, roasting. On the table were plates of prawns and big green salads. Carlos, Leandra´s husband, was cutting up sausage and cheese. And oh what a party we had, with merry souls and tired muscles and warm hearts. (my feet, however, were frozen!) The lamb was delicious, what I had of it. I didn´t try this year´s vintage. My poor stomach.
Paddy, however, helped Esteban take on a 10-year-old brandy. Everyone else had liquor made with hazelnuts, which I think would be lovely over vanilla ice cream. I was informed that the thick fogs are normal for this time of year, but only for a few more days. They will stop on January 25, Edu says. Everyone else nodded. So it´s gotta be true.
And so it went, and so we went home. Nice. None of the photos turned out, so I am glad I didn´t take too many. Some events are better kept on the internal hard drive.
And today, I feel much better. But now Paddy has the stomach lurgy. I am taking him back to Sahagun and putting him to bed.