Friday, 4 January 2008
Sol y Sombra
It´s a very strange sort of day, very Spanish in its "Sol y Sombra" aspects. (That´s "sun and shadow" to you English speakers. Meaning things are extreme, black and white.)
The sun was gorgeous this morning, and yesterday´s rain has made the fields positively glow with newly germinating rye. But on the way back a Mystic Fog came down from the north, where the mountains stand about 20 miles off. You can see it moving, like that gruesome mist that slays all the Egyptian firstborn in "The Ten Commandments." Except this is gray mist, not green, and it doesn´t lay on the ground...it rises up over your head in whifty drifts. And no one´s dead yet that I know of. It blocks out the sun instantly,and takes visibility down to about 30 feet. It made my mood go all kablooey too. I think this is where the term "wet blanket" comes from.
But when I got back to The Peaceable, a truck was in the drive out back. It was a crew of subcontractors from Becerril de Campos, here to start installing the windows! Wow!
The sun came back out. The mail lady arrived, bearing a big, heavy box with USPS tape all over it. It was Christmas, from my mom and sister, a box full of staple items from The Land of the Fee, full of unfindable American things like powdered sugar, shortening, peanut butter, and the ever-lovin´ Kraft Mac & Cheez! Shipping them over here cost three times what the food was worth, but like they say: it´s the thought that counts. And OMG, am I ready to make a QUICHE. We have fresh eggs out the wazoo, and now maybe I can make a decent pie crust! Hallelujah!
When I went to write fulsome Thank You emails to them both, I found the email server is down today "for obras." So if any other of you was expecting email from me, please know that, technically, being "cerrado por obras" means "closed for maintenance work." It really is code language for "closed for however long we feel like taking off and not working." Sombitch!
I went back to Sahagún and cleaned the apartment and did all manner of errands, one of which yielded up the happy discovery of Paddy´s birthday present, which is always a major wintertime challenge. In the Plaza Mayor, accompanied by loud recordings of kiddie Christmas tunes, were three city council members in fake beards and silk doublets posing as the Mailmen for the Three Kings. The innocents of Sahagún will give their lists of demands to these City Fathers, who will supposedly pass them along to the Reyes Magos, who arrive tomorrow evening on the 7:15 train from Chamartín in Madrid, bearing lots of toys and goodies for all the good girls and boys. (Most towns have the kings clattering into the plaza on fine horses, but Sahagún is inordinately proud of still being a stop on two main railway lines.)
It felt nice, being out and about on a sunny day in January where everyone is cheery and the shops are full. Tomorrow´s the big holiday, so today was rather like Christmas Eve is at home...a last-minute scramble for gifts and cakes and cash. I stopped and chatted with Rigoberto, the Cuban guy who runs the big pilgrim hostel. He finds my Spanish almost as incomprehensible as I find his English. I also saw Anunciata, the superior from the Benedictinas, out buying fresh sardines for lunch. She´s always smiling, that one. It makes me wonder what she´s up to.
I came back here to Moratinos. The window guys were gone, having put in a solid five hour day. And having installed floor jacks in the salon, apparently to hold up a portion of the (brand new) second floor they apparently don´t trust. (they asked Paddy if he knew how far the new joists sink into the wall. He told them he didn´t know. They didn´t tell him why that was a concern, and he didn´t ask. Men.)
I strolled through the house, an activity that sometimes is very encouraging to me. I saw the windows shimmed into place, and the three-feet-deep sills behind them, with the adobe exposed and rough... and the complete shambles of a backyard visible beyond that. We stick windows in holes, but the outer walls are losing their tiles, and the arch over the back gate is falling down. I´ll trade in my Three Kings for a handyman angel. One that speaks Spanish, and doesn´t mind the mud and cold and isolation.
My allergy pill is failing, and the dogs that don´t usually bother me are starting to. The sun is now clouded over good and solid. I´ve started snapping at the dogs, and Paddy can´t be far behind. The internet went down altogether. I hope you get this.
It is time for some rooibus tea. Or hormones, maybe. Or Bourbon.
I may have to settle for mac & cheez, and a snort on the asthma inhaler.