I wrote an entire blog about Sunday´s after-church "Vermut" gathering, but somehow I blew it away into the ether. It was not meant to be. Instead of writing about a single, moonshine-flavored after-Christmas series of parties, I will write about an entire year. (I may post some of the party pics, just for hilarity´s sake.) (If /&&% Blogspot will allow more than one photo upload.)
But compare that to the great things that came my way this year, and there´s no contest.
In January Una found two starving greyhounds, who became Nabi and Lulu. Tim was lost for a long afternoon, but he found his own way home. Murphy almost left us permanently in August after eating a poisoned mouse, but the vet saved him (he is burning through those nine lives, however...) We now have Rosey, another camino refugee, found this time by Kim.
So many innovations this year: the Italians showed up and started their Epic Albergue, next to Segundino´s carpentry shop, and a new 2-star hostel was begun on the other end of Moratinos. Paddy discovered several topical blogs on conservative Catholicism, and soon spawned his popular online persona "Toadspittle." We got new roof on the barn, a new PC, and new patio furniture -- Paddy served many al fresco meals out under the big blue umbrella in the fine weather. We got a bread machine from Holland, a slow-cooker from England, two new white hens from the Chicken Boutique, and a lovely and powerful telescope to feed my late-night stargazing habit.
The church got a new little Santiago image, the Confraternity of St. James in London got a new Camino Invierno Guide, and throughout the month of November I wrote a novel based on a true, 1,000-year-old story based in Sahagún. (No one´s "got" that yet!) We finally got a new induction hob in the kitchen, after wrangling with the repairman and warranty people for two years.
The other big positive weight on the scale is the people who came here this year. Maybe not quite so many people as 2009, but very high quality people indeed: the Aussie girls of January; Grant Spangler from California; Roger and Ian from Peterborough Pilgrims; reporters from Norte de Castilla and Revista Peregrina; Malin and David and Brian, and then the Camino All-Star Weeks that brought luminaries like George Greenia and Frank Farrell, Mariann the Swiss and Sue Kenney and Tracy Saunders; Ignacio, Adam, Will, Peter, and René, musicians from the Camino Guitarras program; Jackie the Mastiff from Terradillos, and Rainer, the German guy who thinks he is Jesus Christ.
Real, certified (if not certifiable) religious people graced our summer: Verena the Zen Master from Austria, Father Amado the barefoot Filipino Redemptorist, Sisters Miriam and Maria Elizabeth, and Father Calvo from the diocesan art museum in Palencia. The Molloys, Mitch, Derek, Rafferty, Rom and Aideen, and Laura drew closer to our hearts.
Leo and Edu gave us shit, but only because we said our garden needed it.
Two Freds and a Patriç gave us the use of their skills and labors.
Kim gave us a Big Dog Party, and hours of invisible shimmering, videos, prayers, and a friendship with uncanny timing.
Juli gave me companionship, laughs, verb drills, and the best reason I ever found to walk a camino. Her mother Julia gave me acceptance I never imagined I´d ever feel as a foreigner in a tiny Castilian town. She understands about half of what I say, but she lets me rattle on... and she translates it into real Spanish for anyone else who´s trying to understand.
There´s not room here to tell you all the local people who´ve been kind, patient, or neighborly with us this year. We´ve been to their parties and funerals and pig-stickings and moonshine-samplings, and we´ve had them here, peering at our bodega roof and frozen water pipes and demonstrating how to carve up a pig´s leg and drink down many bottles of cosechero. We live in a fine community of fine people. They make our dream of life in Spain come true every single day, in some way or another.
The losses we suffered in 2010 only accentuate how fortunate we are to live in this place, with this great parade of characters going on around us. There are at least as many beginnings as endings, if you think about it. So more and more I use the year´s end as a Thanksgiving, too.
I leave tomorrow for Santiago de Compostela, where I plan to hang out a lot with Christine from Sweden, a new friend, and look through museums that I never had time for before, and attend a ceremonial Mass of Imposition of Medals for new members of the Archiconfradia del Apostol Santiago. I want to see fireworks over the big cathedral for the New Year.
And the old one, too. 2010 was, you know, an Año Santo. A holy year.