Monday, 8 December 2008


The kids arrived to gray skies, and it´s rained, rained rained ever since they landed. We are effectively stranded in the Little House on the Meseta, surrounded by dripping eaves, mud, chill, and dogs. (no chilidogs, though.) It´s a long holiday weekend here, so stores, historic sites, and amusing places are all closed.

With the waterlogged plains stretching out for miles around us, we are marooned from the greater world.
I am not sure Libby and Philip signed on for this.
It´s a good thing we all like one another pretty well. We´ve played Scrabble and Settlers of Catan, a complicated "develop your medieval village economy before the other guys" sort of game that Philip brought along. We´ve discussed at length the Pittsburgh Steelers football team -- our heartfelt subscription to American regional tribalism. (Ah, the longings one feels on a long Sunday afternoon, without a TV and without a signal, far from the mad, mad crowd!)

We take turns sweeping the floors, as mud comes inside with every trip to the chicken run, trash bin, or driveway. Paddy and Philip chop and haul firewood, and keep the stove going. We do laundry, and string it up to dry in the salon. We read novels, write letters, cruise the internet. (God bless his soul, David the Dutch hospitalero really seems to have cracked the wifi mystery!)Una and Tim and Murphy are taking advantage of two extra sets of hands providing scratches, snacks, and scraps.

We´ve learned about Philip´s sojourn through the history curriculum at Ohio University, and Libby´s new job at a battered women´s shelter in Bowling Green, which will require nice new clothes...she´ll have to appear in court. We´ve been down to Palencia, where we got an up-close look at provincial governmental bureaucracy. (we were sent someone else´s tax bill, and learned today that few people here in Moratinos are on speaking terms with the addressee, so we can´t get their address to forward it to them. The bill is for a big 6 Euros. The mayor told me to just tear it up and fugeddaboudit.)

When people are incarcerated together, meals become important daily touchstones. Philip´s longtime sweetheart is from a Muslim family, and Philip has sworn-off eating pork. Libby is allergic to egg yolks. Feeding them is interesting. So far we´ve done tortilla without yolks, pesto pasta, rabbit stew, Indonesian clay-pot chicken, veg. puree, and tonight, Turkish spaghetti. It takes more thinking-ahead with this number of people, and one more is due to arrive Wednesday.

Today the rain lightened to drizzle for a couple of hours, so we went to Grajal and looked at the outsides of the castle and palace, walked through the secret passageway to the big empty plaza mayor, and discovered an unmarked bar glowing yellow down an adobe alley. We had croquetas (which had ham in them, egads!) and patatas bravas, and cold cold San Miguel draft beer. Both my kids can drink legally now, but neither seems to drink much at all.

Both my "kids" are adults. And after all these years, just as I´d suspected they might, both of them are turning out to be very good company. They make interesting conversation, they cook and clean. They know how to laugh out loud, and how to be silent. They don´t mind being alone. They do not expect to be entertained. I think I would like them even if I did not love them with all my blood and bone, heart and soul.

I look outside, past Libby´s shoulder, and I hear sparrows arguing in the spruce tree. The rain is stopped. Up above the barn roof there´s a streak of blue sky.

1 comment:

Martea said...

You are a most wonderful writer my sister. And your children look so much like you and somewhat like the Scott's before them. They seem to have turned out wonderfully and you should be supremely proud of your accomplishments as a mother. I wish you and I and Beth could spend hours trading stories of motherhood. I know we could all learn from each other. I miss you and I miss Beth and Mom so much it makes my heart hurt. All of you are on my mind constantly- especially during this season. Tell your brood to hang in there and remember there are people clear across the world that love you all unconditionally.!!!!