Monday, 18 July 2011

Potatoes, and Being

I have not been a full-time journalist for several years now, but I still carry a notebook, and I still write down things I see and hear that are interesting. Most of them never go anywhere, but they make for interesting reading when I find them rolled-up and stuck inside old shoes out in the barn. I sometimes wonder where I was when I wrote that. And what was I thinking?
Here is a bit of grafitto I saw on a wall and copied-down:

"Quiero hacer contigo
lo que hace la primavera
con los cerezas." 

That translates to:
"I want to do with you
the thing that Spring does
with the cherry trees." 

I looked it up. Pablo Neruda wrote that, and it is beautiful. I wonder where is that wall?

And here is a description I found, apparently I wrote this whilst hospitalera-ing someplace.

His name is Alberto, he is Italian with 71 years and a pot belly with his trousers pulled way up over it, all held together with suspenders. He is exhausted, red in the face, unshaven. He has lost the arm off one side of his eyeglasses. One of his boots is split. He is a small man carrying a huge 20-kilo backpack. He says this trail is too hard for him. He needs an optician and a shoe repair shop, a coffee and maybe a shot of something stronger. He needs to make up his mind today, whether to keep going or to get on the bus for home. I am making him coffee. It is about all I can offer him. Poor old guy. What the hell is he doing out here?

I observed the famous Goya portrait of King Carlos III dressed as a hunter, which makes the king look like a dope. The king looks a lot like my dad did, when he was acting silly. Somehow I doubt they were related.  Goobers are goobers, no matter when or where they show up in history.

I wrote about how much I would like to have a vegetable garden, and a canary. Now I have both. The hailstorm destroyed a good bit of the garden, and this week we dug out the potatoes. They are small, beautiful, and delicious. There are not very many of them, but Paddy is over the moon. He boils them, and puts some mint leaves (also from our garden) in with them, and they are More Than Tatties. This week we ate courgettes, cabbage, and a few French beans, all grown out back. A dream come true, delicious and nutritious. 

I look at these old notes, and I see how seriously I took things, not so long ago. How caught-up I was in the lives around me, how significant were the plans for next week or next year. I was still realizing dreams, I was laying foundations and learning how to navigate and occupy a new life. So much was still so  strange and terrifying.

Now we are moved-in and settled-down. We still are laying foundations, but now they are for patios and studios and garden-beds, not for entire houses. We know where to go for the best lunch, sharp knives, fresh fruit, fast trains. The people whose doings were so fascinating and intimate to ours have all given up on this place and moved back to civilization.

The Camino doesn´t stop here so much any more. I rarely volunteer as a hospitalera, unless helping out at Bruno´s or hosting people here counts toward the total. The travelers who stay with us these days are students and neo-retirees, nice, deodorized middle-class people of a particular, self-selecting, safe type. I like them, but I kinda miss the hippies and drifters and fire-worshipping stone-masons, the shrieking Spanglish-speaking Swiss ladies and the bony Germans who think they are Jesus. 

I have become safe now, too (if not deodorized). I no longer feel like a valiant pioneer. I no longer imagine the things I do are important. I am getting over doing. I am shifting slowly into being.

I am disappearing into the landscape. Which is a good thing, as this landscape is as beautiful as anyplace I have ever seen, or been.

I don´t mind vanishing, long as I can still get out and hike a trail and write a guide for it, and see it published. Long as my neighbors still manage to smile when they see me, and I can pay my bills when they come due, and long as there´s still dog food and chicken-scratch in the bins. Long as my friends and family  still love me, and come to visit now and then.

Long as I am able to notice enough to take notes. And maybe even
hago contigo
lo que hace el verano
con las patatas.


Benjamin said...

Hello Rebekah -- Greetings from Los Angeles. This was a beautiful diary entry. You now have me craving potatoes. I'm glad to see you and Paddy are doing well.

I am returning to the Camino next summer and hope to visit Moratinos again.

Keep writing and Buen Camino.

Ben Scuglia
Los Angeles

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Maybe your presence has just become more embedded, while more profound. I imagine it is still you that the villagers turn to if a foreigner has some inconsolable need or frightening illness. And it was you who walked with a grieving mother to make a pilgrimage she needed to make. And even the middle-class remember your kindness- a soft bed for an exhausted peregrina, laundry done for me while I lazed on the computer, fresh boiled eggs to carry on the journey...)

claire said...

Disappearing in the landscape, Reb, when it is your landscape, it sounds like heaven to me...

kim said...

beautiful post.

Michael Barham said...

Wow, Reb, this is a beautiful post, and I am going to share the graffito with my boyfriend... cause, we have a thing about cherry trees (he's Japanese). I'm going to imagine being on an hanami under the cherry tree of my beloved's heart, and think about Spring doing what it does. Aloha to you from Hawaii, where you are welcome to come disappear some into the background.

Tracy Saunders. said...

Woman, you have to WRITE and keep on writing.
To do anything else is just plain selfish.
This is just beautiful.