Friday, 13 May 2011


"In Castile, the landscape is in the sky."  -- Delibes
The sisters swept back to America on Friday, and Dael the Scotsman swept in. Their visits overlapped by a day, so Beth and Mart got photos of a Kilted Scot, to add to everything else they saw In Spain. 
It was a long way back from Madrid, alone in the car. I ran into a ferocious hailstorm -- part of a string of terrible weather that damaged crops and sowed mayhem all over the meseta that afternoon. I could see the storm approach for miles, then I could hear it -- the hail popped like corn up the autopista, then crashed onto the car like a million jawbreakers. (I was safely parked under a bridge, having learned my lessons in tornado country for several years.) Happily, nothing was hurt here in Moratinos. We seem to live a charmed life these days.

I hung Bob the Canary´s cage outside on the wellhead on sunny Tuesday morning, after giving it a cleaning. Bob sang out to his friends, the sparrows up in the spruce tree. And then, right in front of me and Paddy, Bob hopped to the still-open door of the cage and flew away to join them! 

He sang up there for a while, dazzling them all. I started to cry. And then he flew back down onto the wellhead, looking for his home. I ran over to the well to nab him. 

For the next hour and a half he led me on a chase -- all over the patio, over the wall into the driveway, under the Jesus Car, and deep into the rosemary hedge. He worked with his camouflage (Bob is a grey canary), and gave me the slip in the high grass next to Pilar´s field of rye. 

Paddy brought me a chair, and sunglasses, and his hat. I sat out there and waited. I cried. I went in and got the sickle and cut the little lawn next to the driveway, and called on the Patron Saints of Lost Things, and Animals, and the Peaceable. And I called to Bob. And soon after I finished hacking at the high grass, I saw something moving up there, just next to the path... Bob. I grabbed him from above, popped him into his cage in the patio, and slid shut the door. He sang his little heart out through the rest of the afternoon, none the worse for wear. 

I took a good nap. Crying wears me out.

The crops are amazing. Heads are fully formed on the standing grain -- the wind combs it with its fingers, the spaces alongside are filling with poppies and cornflowers and daisies. All these things are not supposed to happen til June, at least far as I remember. Nobody is complaining. 

The potato plants growing out back of our house are huge. The artichoke plants are huge. The lettuces and spinach and parsley will soon overrun everything else out there. (We are eating salads with every meal!) Out in the field beyond Segundino´s carpentry shop, his brother Manolo planted a great swath in... potatoes. Why potatoes? "There´s a hotel opening on one end of town, and an albergue on the other, and a restaurant going into the bodegas," he said. Potatoes. Of course! His potatoes are well up now, dots of dark green, planted in neat rows. He is a practical man.

Tim loves hangin at Bruno´s
Tonight, over at Hostal San Bruno, 25 people sat down to dinner. The place is packed to the rafters with pilgrims, as well as people stopping by to sample the Italian cuisine. Bruno is still smiling, but a bit raveled round the edges. He brought on some help. Georgieu, the Bulgarian builder who helped him finish the building project, and his wife Maria, are cooking and waiting tables. Their little boy Lorenzo adds a wonderful spark of youth to the place. They want to live in Moratinos, Georgieu says. There is no place to rent here, welcome as they might be. 

Not yet, anyway. There are so many works going on in town, something might just open up.
three abandoned bodegas went

Over at the bodegas, the Esteban/Milagros family bought up several of the abandoned and collapsed wine caves, and just yesterday started digging into their ambitious bodega restaurant plan. Soon the tumbledown Teacher House will go, as well as a couple of other condemned buildings in town. A new roof is going onto another tiny house, so the restaurant staff will have a place to live. 

On our side of the mountain, the bodega roof project is finally happening. Dael, the hard-working Scot, hacked away the grass, and the two of us hauled great rolls of cut-to-size asphalt-aluminum roof sheeting up there. We lapped the edges, threw some clods of dirt on top, and ran for cover when another storm rolled in. So far it is still up there where we left it. That was the easy part... Now we have to haul a couple of tons of dirt up there, to cover over the roofing material. 
Dael the Scot, atop our bodega

We took today off.  I spent most of today in bed, laid low by a gastric bug that´s put Paddy out of commission, too. I am feeling better now. By tomorrow I will be in shape for dirt-slinging. Dael did not take a break: While Paddy and I lolled in our beds of affliction, Dael weed-whacked the front and back and sides of the house, watered the garden, and finished sculpturally stacking the 5 tons of firewood out back. (Dael is supposed to go home in a couple of weeks, but I am not sure he will be allowed.) 

And Dael is only the first in a string of pilgrims who visited here before, and are now returning to stay and work with, and for, The Peaceable. I keep thanking him. He keeps telling me "nae, tis nowt lassie, innit?" Dael is a retired policeman from Fife. He smokes a wee pipe, and has quite the brogue going on. (Sometimes understanding him is a bit like talking to Georgieu the builder, whose Spanish is really Italian with a Bulgarian accent.)

Anyone who´s done the pilgrimage knows how the Holy Spirit Gift of Tongues operates out here. Somehow, just about everyone manages to communicate.

Canary-song, earth-movers, hammer-blows, tractors, and a dozen different languages. It is not language. It is music. 


Libby said...

I will have to come visit to see all the changes in little Moratinos. I'm glad it's having a bit of a boom.

Stonejumper said...

A rich and full account!!

soulful road said...

oh, for the love of bob!

... and it seems that the peaceable is blessed.

beautiful post.


Anonymous said...

ditto the Kimster...I miss it!

(another willing worker at the Peaceable...otherwise known as WWAP

love, k