I am not writing, because writing requires a lot of focus, and I don´t have any of that to spare. I think of you blog readers, I make mental notes of cool things that happen and details I see and hear and smell, but I quickly forget them.
If you look at the header of the blog, you will see what the landscape is like around here. The fields are golden, the grain is cut and baled, and the afternoon sun shines flat, white, hot, and still. Unless the wind blows. Then we get the dust.
Here in August and September, dust rules. It shimmies into the cracks, spreads itself in layers over every surface. There are no truly white sheets or blankets or dogs or cats, nor are there truly white-washed walls. If I look sun-tanned to you, just look close at the crow´s feet wrinkles around my eyes. The skin inside is very white. I, like everybody around here, am wearing a thin coat of golden-brown dust, 24 hours a day.
We have five dogs. With the addition of the gallumphing young mastiff
Bella, we have officially moved into "eccentric" territory. Bella is
intelligent and sweet-natured, and she has a passion for digging. She
has systematically ruined three major efforts at growing greenery in the
garden-patches of the new patio. I would not usually be overly upset by
this, but for some reason that harsh, sun-blasted, dirt-spattered patio
drives me to despair.
Moratinos is thriving. The grain harvest was good, the sunflowers are small but numerous. The Milagros Boys officially opened the Bodega Restaurant Castillo de Moratinos, and it´s attracting people from far and wide. It helps that so many folks are back in the area from Madrid and Burgos and Vittoria -- August is when the families traditionally reunite in their pueblos.
The boys are keeping things simple and local, catering to rural tastes, using local ingredients. So when I offered to translate the menu into English for the pilgrims, I got to know just what those steaming flame-roasted meat nuggets are. They are the thymus glands of suckling lambs, otherwise known as "sweetbreads." The stewed things are are calf-faces and pig snouts. The cold-cuts are very tasty, even if they are thinly sliced cow tongues and pork-bellies! There are superb chorizo sausages, veal chops, ribs and skewers of chicken breast, all roasted over a wood fire. The Castillo is packin´ em in, and it brings a different feel to Moratinos in general.
Cars are parked all over the place, and strangers stroll the streets. Children have appeared, babies in strollers and long-legged girls on bicycles. The dogs bark at new noises well into the night. People smile and kiss one another´s cheeks, people who have not seen each other for months or years. And when we go into Sahagún, or down to Villada, people there tell us how smart we were to choose Moratinos. Moratinos is the only place around where things are growing, where businesses are opening and a few new jobs have been created. Milagros says it´s the novelty, and the local fiestas. Things will calm down when the weather changes. Farmers-turned-restaurateur have few illusions.
I miss the Sunday afternoon Vermut in the ayuntamiento. There´s more litter now in the plaza, and grafitti out at the labyrinth. The bar at Bruno´s albergue is suddenly awful lonely, even though Michael has his beautiful girlfriend there with him now.
We live at a remove from most of it. We live on the edge of town, in the "barrio arriba," the "upper end." Paddy goes downtown for gin-and-tonics and Olympic matches on TV, but I am keeping to myself. I am unsociable, sleeping many hours, neglecting my e-mails and "online marketing opportunities."
And we have been away. We spent a week down in Malaga province with Paddy´s family. Things are not good there -- people and houses are aging, money is tight, predators and leeches abound, and the support systems that once were there are no more. We are not directly related to the problems, so there are limits to what we can do. Paddy worries, but keeps his chin up. I pray a lot, and meditate, and tend the garden and chickens. I make zuchinni bread, and wheat bread, and gazpacho.
Verena, my Zen Master from Austria, showed up a couple of days ago. She says things are hard because things are changing. The whole world is shifting, she says, and I am not the only person feeling it in my bones and my spirit. It is best not to fight it. It is good to take it seriously. It´s a great big wave. I can relax and let it carry me forward, or I can struggle against it, and let it overwhelm me. The key is being still with it, sitting, breathing. Doing nothing.
Doing nothing. Imagine that. In the town where everything is going on!