Friday, 15 May 2009
Busy-ness is good. We came here to be busy, to keep our retired selves occupied with small but somehow meaningful things.
Busy is one thing. But this week? Jeez. Enough already.
Not that I am not enjoying a lot of time with my Mom. In the week she´s been here we traveled from Madrid in the slow train, toured a Roman Villa a few miles away and museums and cathedrals in Burgos and Leon. We drove for hours down the Camino, stopped to chat with Deeply Meaningful hospitaleros, shopped for groceries and hardware, snapped a few hundred photos and uploaded them all to Picasa, tried to visit the castle and palace at Grajal (which remain as firmly closed as ever, despite all the PR). We´ve also just sat and gabbed. Mom and Kim seem to hit it off wonderfully, perhaps because Kim has not heard all of Mom´s stories before!
Having Mom here is one thing. It is stressful, but it´s a good kind of stress.
Sadly, there´s plenty of the other kind around. Thomas paints with olive-green, and had already painted a huge swath of garden wall before we realized that was not the wall we wanted him to do.
He started "fixing" the leaky pipe in the old water trough in the patio, with sitcom-worthy results: fountain of squirting water, shouting, me running out the front gate and round the outer walls to shut off the water main, which was covered in spiders, all just in time for a gang of Aussie pilgrims to roll up at the door. So we didn´t have water for a while. A portion of the patio is, well... mud. For now. Until Thomas finishes painting the walls out back, and hanging up the gutters on the chicken house, and we make a decision on what to do with our water lines. I keep having to visit the ATM to draw out more and more money. I wonder if we can afford this.
Then there are the chickens. Blodwyn, our favorite, is not well. It´s very worrying. She might just be sulking, as we have ordered six new hens -- black ones, from faraway Zaragoza. But even she can´t hold a grudge this long, and the new girls won´t arrive until June.
Paddy´s moods are swinging wildly from sweetums to SOB. No good reason for it, outside the usual Mother In Law jokes. Today was especially bad. It´s San Isidro Day, occasion for a Mass and Procession and party in the Plaza, and occasion for fireworks and skyrockets. Una spent her morning cowering in the back bathroom, terrified of the noise. Then Paddy had to put on nice clothes and go to church. Then he lost his wallet in the laundry somewhere. Thomas made the back wall very green. The liver Pad cooked at lunchtime was not a big hit, as we´d run out of onions. Tim rolled in pig poo fertilizer again, and had to have another bath.
So Pad is mad.
I drove into Sahagun, twice.
I developed a headache.
The builder´s merchant delivered the wrong guttering.
Out back the garden-watering system stopped working.
Pilgrims came, nice ones. I wonder if we treated them well enough. I like to give them my full attention, but I know I am not operating at Full Hospitality. I assume they understand, or they don´t notice. (Pilgrims are usually as self-absorbed as me.)
At 9:30 p.m. or so, after dinner, everyone finally shuffles off to his respective bedroom. I am left alone. The breeze is up. A dog and cat and I step out into the patio, down the sidewalk, past the mud hole and Tomas´s radio warbling in the Hermitage, through the gate and out into the gloaming.
A strip of sky is still yellow where the sun smeared its way down. Swallows dive and dart at the insects in the streetlight. Out on the distant autopista, trucks hum. Murphy´s cat-feet thump softly on the concrete street.
But there´s a new sound now to the evening: the leaves. The standing grain is now blue beneath and silvery green on top, and the wind hums and whispers through the stalks. And the trees, our few trees -- tall proud ones that stand along the creeks and ditches -- they roar and shush, noisier in their way than even the neighbors´ hound-dog chorus. This, I know, is what the color green sounds like.
There are no people sounds. I turn back to home. The only light coming from The Peaceable is from my mother´s window. It´s sweet-pea green, bright and warm. I realize my head feels okay now.
I let us back inside, and as I pass I open the lid on the little Donations box by the front gate. Inside, along with €6.55 in coins, somebody has left a 50-Euro bill.
We can do this. Tomorrow will be easier, or maybe Sunday will.