The sun is glorious.
I cannot seem to write anything comprehensively, so I default to sorting out things.
Patrick and I have an important commonality: Even though we live in a rambling and spread-out place that requires lots of upkeep, what we maintain is a great resistence to orderliness. This translates into many things. We can happily live with plenty of racket around us – over-loud music, yapping dogs, people shuffling in and out, the bread-man blasting his horn, tractors and occasional dirt-bikes revving outside the walls. I think it comes from working in newsrooms for years. Deadline pressure teaches one to focus on the task at hand, even when the archbishop is lap-dancing at the next desk.
Disorder is another commonality. Even though we stripped down our possessions to a minimum before moving here five years ago, and even though we continue to discuss minimalism and simplicity, we still manage a degree of environmental clutter. On the patio, even when things have been tucked away for winter, are scrub-brushes, dog-combs, rags, shutters, loose tiles, window-boxes, and dead jasmine. These things happen while you´re carrying out a bigger job. You set down that jug of glue, that water-glass, that turnip-seed packet or umbrella or dog-coat or bit of broken-off walking stick, just for a minute. The minute turns to a month.
Inside the house it´s pens, papers, magazines, paperbacks, maps, recipes, business cards, notebooks, salt-shakers, dog treats, and cables for cameras, computers, and mobile phones. I am not sure where all this stuff comes from. I certainly do not know where it all goes. We shift it all around now and then. We put the clutter into nice colorful boxes, and stow them on shelves. Things look nice for a little while, til a new layer of the same kind of stuff builds up again, or someone needs a camera cable or a compass or caraway seeds or muscle liniment. By then they have vanished, never to be seen again.
Right around the full moon of March 15 or 20, it hits critical mass. The sun reappears, and one morning a bright beam slices through the windows just so. I realize... This Place Is Out of Hand.
And this is why now the patio is home to a clematis plant, climbing up a new arbor, fertilized with homemade clematis food. The herb garden is weeded, seeded with cilantro and basil, with the parsley, oregano, rosemary, mint, and lavender looking bushy and bright – and three kinds of thyme tucked into their own little section. (Kim and Frank built the bed for me last year, when I was out camino-ing. It is one of the best gifts anyone´s given me.)
I told you last time about the random bottle from the bodega that turned into something lovely? So I went over to the bodega this week with a corkscrew and a flashlight and a glass and a big jug of water and had a good look. And taste.
I found we have some nice wine ready for this year or next. We have a few things that want a couple of more years. But most of all we had empty racks!
Now is a good time to buy some kinds of wine, so that is what we did: we went and spent 182 Euros on Rioja and Ribera del Duero crianzas and a few cosechas.. Sixty bottles or so. Cheap ones. Wine that is OK now, but likely only wants a couple of years in the dark to turn into drinkable perfume. (Or so we hope.) I racked them according to region and age: Toro, Ribero del Duero, Rioja, Navarra, Ribera Sacra, varietals, odd French things, 2007, 8, 10. (I don´t do “vintage.” Still too highbrow.) I will need to shop for white wine after a few weeks, when the new white wine comes out – the Rueda, Albariño, Bierzo... If Patrick goes to France for his holidays I hope he will bring back some of that beautiful green Gascon rosé, because my sisters are coming to visit, and they will never otherwise taste that wonderful taste.
It is an investment, wine, even though I never spend more than about 4 Euros for a bottle. The pilgrims surely do help us burn through the stuff. (The really good ones I keep aside for friends and family and supporters. Just so you know. Unless we have exceptional pilgrims!)
I very much enjoyed myself sorting out the vino, even though I don´t do well in caves generally. I thought about the earthquake that hit here on Monday, and I looked at the bits of earth that have fallen lately from the bodega ceiling. And then I stopped thinking.
Out in our back yard, otherwise known as “la huerta,” the garden beds are ready to roll. I´ve planted peas, butter lettuce, purple lettuce, endive, cabbages, carrots, turnips, spinach, and a few potatoes – in beds I can quickly cover up with plastic if and when the frost arrives.
I put in an Eden rose, a fragrant climber, on a trellis that lately was a barrier fence at Bruno´s albergue. It will make the back yard much more welcoming and pretty, I hope. The back yard still has a long way to go before it is civilized. But I rather like having a bit of Savage Nature around. Like T.S. Eliot (or was it ee cummings?) said, when you live on a farm you never can be bored – there is always something to do, some bit of wildness to bring back under the whip, always something to put off til next week.
But I digress.
In other orderliness I did up our taxes (well as I know how). We put the bread-baking cupboard back together after it collapsed. We finished up the woodpile, we hauled some old timbers into the huerta to make a new potato patch, I moved manure and sand and dirt by the barrow-load. We even hosted a goodly number of pilgrims in the middle of it all, and treated them well I think. They are bombing through here now, pilgrims.
Paddy turned 70 years old. Which means maybe I should not be working him so hard.
Today, in the bright sun, Patrick and I pulled out the patio table and chairs. We rubbed them down with teak oil, readying them for another year of merriment.
One note from outside our gates: Dear Bruno finally got all the pipes joined up and the permits stamped. The Hospital San Bruno pilgrim albergue is good to go, at long last, at vast expense... On Sunday he and his longsuffering and mostly invisible wife will host a great pasta feast at the New Italian Albergue, for all the townspeople of Moratinos.
And next week, everyone assumes, the albergue will open its doors. For the first time in history, Moratinos will offer pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela an official place to stop and stay. I sincerely wish them all the best. Moratinos was the last village on the camino with nothing to offer pilgrims. This had to happen.
But The Peaceable. What will become of us?
Maybe this is the question that is casting me down these days. Maybe we are now obsolete. Maybe now no one will find his way here, past a hostal, past an albergue... maybe now we will only get the homeless wanderers, the poor bodies who cannot or will not cough up the six Euros for a pilgrim bed at Bruno´s place.
We may have outlived our usefulness, Camino-wise.
What will we be now? What will we become?
Vamos a ver. We shall see.
Time will tell.