Monday, 1 November 2010
This is usually just a long weekend here, with a Monday Mass as well as a Sunday, and a community-wide march out to the cemetery to bless the living and the dead. But this year, maybe because so many people were in town for the weekend, or maybe because someone wanted something to do, the families on the plaza decided to organize a big Sunday afternoon lamb roast.
This used to be standard procedure, from what I understand, but like many traditions it was let slide when all the young people moved away to Bilbao and Burgos and Berlin. Now a lot of those now-not-so-young people are coming back for holidays -- who knows why? -- and they´re willing to put the work into making things a bit more lively. That´s what we heard on Saturday evening, when Carlos came to the door with the news: Big dinner tomorrow. We´re all splitting up the costs. Bring your own plate and silverware, after Mass in the plaza.
And so we did. Here are pics of the big event: the grapevines for the barbecue pit, the windbreak made from a plastic sheet, the beautiful pottery bowl full of chuletillas and garlic and wine, steaming pots of potatoes slow-cooked with the rest of the lamb on the back of the stove, escarole and pomegrate salad, apple tart and oranges and grapes for dessert...
and then the coffee and chupitos, shots of whiskey and other homemade liquor. It made my day to see the strange red fruit from our tree out front suspended in anisette, floating in the bottom of an reused chardonnay bottle. (We used our cherry-crabapple thingies for pies, and gave a lot away too.) We toasted the health of Don Santiago, our priest, and applauded the many cooks and crew who made it all happen so fast and delicious...and cheap. A meal fit for kings, queens, or saints, for four Euro each!
It was an important day in a couple of ways. Paddy was given the lamb´s kidneys, roasted over the grapevine fire -- kidneys are his favorite, and these were the best he´s had in all his life, he says.
And it was Una´s big goodbye to Moratinos. She came with Patrick down to the plaza while the meat was roasting, and made sure to be underfoot and available when scraps hit the ground. Everyone marvelled at her continued good health, and slipped her pork rinds when she touched their knees appealingly with her paw.
And then Pin (short for Seraphim) got out the cohetes. These exploding skyrockets are the bane of Una´s life. I took her round back of the building when I knew they were going to happen, and the first big bang sent her fleeing from my arms and across the plaza, fast as her three legs and half a lung could take her.
That was the last I saw of my little white dog.
In the past 24 hours we´ve done several thorough searches, but Una knows every hiding place within two miles of town. She´s laid herself down out there somewhere and died.
And so she is gone from us, and we don´t even have a body to bury, at least not until the farmers get back out in the fields. We´ve had a month to let her go, and this is the way she chose to leave. It´s fitting: she came to us out of nowhere, and she´s gone out that way too.
We´ve had more than our share of death and tears in the last couple of months. I am hoping I´m not sliding into a depression, but there´s never any guarantees there... and there´s never any real fighting one of those great tidal waves of Numb. I hope some pilgrims arrive soon, to get my mind off myself and back where it ought to be.
Today we walk our two remaining dogs, who are very subdued. We listen to Brahms, whose music is always so uplifting. We are being kind to one another. It´s a new month, a new start.
The swallows have flown away and the sons and daughters of Moratinos are gone back to Madrid. We the skeleton crew are all that remain to face the winter. Me without the little dog that followed me from room to room, house to house, country to country, for seven years.
Like Don Santiago said out at the cemetery: The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.