We have been very ill for the past week. Even after a round of anti-biotics I am still unwell. This is getting very tiresome.
Paddy is gone to London to attend a friend´s funeral. I am here, but I am not alone.
Fred wafts in and out, bringing groceries, repairing the front gates and spoiling the dogs. With Paddy gone, the dogs are particularly needy. I take them for long walks in the mornings, probably over-long -- I am worn-out by 11 a.m. They stay near me, they run hard but do not let me out of their sight. I think they might be taking care of me.
This morning, over at the Grand Canyon near San Nicolas, I saw two beautiful foxes slipping over the broken ground and up the camino. Lulu and Harry saw them too, but they didn´t chase them. Maybe they, too, were awed by their fluid beauty.
Christmas is coming to Moratinos. The little plastic Bethlehem is all set up in the church entryway, with real moss and dried flowers for trees. It is silly and beautiful. Each Sunday the Magi are a little farther along the sandy pathway to the manger in the upper corner.
I do not know why, but there are two Baby Jesuses.
Over at the bodegas José and Esteban toil away in the concrete bunker that will sometime soon be a bar and restaurant. Fred stored some box-wine in our bodega, but this weekend discovered mice had chewed through the cardboard, eating the glue all along the edges. They pierced the foil bags inside, of course... and so we have a mess in the cave, and some rodents full of holiday cheer! Tasteful mice. They only chewed the boxes from France.
At Hostal Moratinos, Martina spends her mornings waiting for the scarce pilgrims to pass. She offers them German herbal teas, gingerbread, pumpkin soup. If no one shows up to take a room, she lowers the blinds at sundown and tucks herself away.
The nights are very dark and cold. The stars are hard and sharp in the sky, and Orion spins across the firmament as the hours pass.
At the Hospital San Bruno, the pilgrim albergue, Bruno and Miguel have an electric star in the front window. The place will be closed between Christmas and New Year´s Eve, when it seems everyone will be back in town. We will take up the slack, here at the Peaceable, in the days after Christmas, the very last days of the year.
Pilgrims are already running into trouble: daylight is so short, the distance between open albergues very long. A German man showed up last night just after midnight, banging on the back door, the emergency exit we rarely use. He was lost, exhausted, and very sorry. And lucky -- he chose the right house! I put him in the green bedroom. He ate a banana and three pears, then slept for 13 hours.
I am led to meditate these days. Perhaps because of the long nights, perhaps because there is so little else to do that is interesting. (Reading makes my head swim, and we don´t have a TV.) Meditation makes my senses sharper, makes me slow down and think and appreciate more. Music sounds better, I hear the crows and hawks shouting at one another in the fields. Twenty minutes a day makes a world of difference. It also is an agony for little Rosie, who must leave me alone the entire time!
She watches me, even when she is asleep. She follows me, wherever I go.
I am alone here, but I cannot be lonely.