Thursday, 18 August 2011


Calle Ontanon, just before the stars begin to fall

Dust and heat and electricity are settled on our little town. The sun smites us by day, and at night the stars are falling like crazy. People are moody – cheerful and chipper one day, low and blue the next. Me too.

Here is the big news of the week: the house on the way into town finally came down yesterday. It once was the finest house in Moratinos, we are told, but years of abandonment and neglect saw it falling further earthward every day. It was a dangerous eyesore, and a beautiful, broken old glory – if you were a pilgrim within the last two years or so you might remember how tempting was that sagging-open front door. You could just see inside the kitchen, where a pot still stood on the ancient iron stove. It invited exploring, even as it threatened sudden traumatic crushing injury.

The demolition guys worked two days over there, playing to an appreciative crowd.

There are lots of people in Moratinos just now. It is August, and all the Summer People are back, their houses unlocked and windows thown open, the dust shaken from their rugs out into the already-dusty plaza. Children loop up and down the streets on bikes and scooters, more children every day. A hundred swallows trace the same loops in the air above their little heads.

We pick the figs and plums and courgettes, chop and blanch and bag and freeze them all. We write, or at least I write – I have finished the Vadiniense guide, but have not gotten ´round to sending it off to London for editing. We´ve had guests, from Wales and from Astorga, but we still have not got around to putting the house back together after their visits. We are sun-struck, lazy.

And leery. Much as I like a party, bad things have happened here the last couple of fiestas. A pilgrim fell and broke his foot on our front stairs. Our dog went missing. Last year a traveler lost her life on the road outside town.

Now Murphy is gone missing. Three days now, and no yowls from the back yard.
Peter, the archguitarist, is playing the fiesta Mass on Saturday. I had other, more elaborate liturgical plans laid out, but they suddenly came to naught. (I think I am the only one who´s noticed!)

Juli was here for the last fiesta, cuddling the new babies, hanging out on the church steps, making sure everyone had second helpings of chorizo and bread and wine. (I miss her keenly, she was such a part of my last five summers, and what a gift she would be to the English class!).

During last year´s party Una dog hid from the fireworks in the downstairs shower. Nabi spent the fiesta barking from the safety of the barn.

They all are gone now.

The fiesta will have the place heaving all weekend. We will play cards under the trees, and dance after sundown, go two times to Mass and march the saint around the town. There´s a poetry recital planned, and some folk dancers, and The Big Feast. And on Monday everyone will pack up and vanish for another year.

I will lose half my students at the English lessons. And maybe the English lessons, too, will end when the plowing starts up again.
Big fun learning English

Because we are part of a big rhythm here. Things sprout and flower and fruit, and then they die away and vanish for a while. Houses are built and lived-in and loved until the people move away or die or forget, and then they slowly crumble. Friends, like pilgrims, come into our lives and go out again, sometimes way too soon. We have to let them go.

It is only natural. It´s living.


Tracy Saunders. said...

Friends, things, experiences are transient. They are here to teach us a lesson and then they fade. We do them a disservice when we try to hold them back, even for one small moment.
Isn't our life like that? Does the farmer who reaps the golden harvest regret that it is no longer the green seed of spring?You have reached and maybe passed the I Ching number 55 Zenith: it is an inevitable part of life which clears away the old to make way for the New.
It'd a good thing. Enjoy and harvest,

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned about Murphy- the cat with the golden legs. Let's hope he is only doing that tomcat thing and will soon appear without so much as a "Sorry" for all the worry.

CaroleH said...

Friends like experiences, come into our lives for a short or longer time, changing us, enriching our lives, and we keep a little bit of each of them within us forever.

Cheers from Down Under. Carole