Gone are the sweet, silent days of just us two.
The trail is full of pilgrims, many of them chatting in the unique American rhythms I can hear from a distance. They are bundled-up. It is cold out there, spring is very late. But the air is changed somehow. It is charged.
Suddenly the schedule has marks on it.
I spent a bit of last week in Madrid with a tax lawyer. Our tax situation is scary. When a country finds itself in deep financial doodoo, it´s the foreign residents (all of us are millionaires) who are first handed a shovel. I will not bore you with details of this fiscal proctology, but will warn you that your turn is probably coming. (I tell myself, over and over: "Romanesque churches. Prehistoric cave paintings, Roman mosaics. Flamenco. Tempranillo, Albariño, dove songs in white sunlight. And free health care.")
Tomorrow David and Malin will come down from their mountain home, and all of us will swing into Spring-cleaning, painting, and repairing parts of the Peaceable. Big, dusty jobs are too much for just Paddy and me, and work is hard to come by for able-bodied young people. It is a win-win situation, long as nobody else shows up and wants to stay.
Bruno came back from his long winter in Italy last week, and Michael, his partner, told him he leaving the business.
So Bruno is back on his own again, and the work is just too much for one man alone. He came to church this morning looking pale. He was praying for Providence, he said: he has to go back to Italy for three days next week, and unless someone could be found keep the albergue going, he would have to close up shop during these important early days.
Enter Elan, an enthusiastic young hospitalero from Chicago. He walked the camino last year, and now wants to learn all about running albergues. He came down from France to help us with the chores and to hear our windy yarns of camino life. I only picked him up in Sahagún yesterday afternoon. Just in time for Bruno. Elan said he´ll be glad to keep the albergue open ...Win-win again!
I´ve planted lettuces and spinach in the garden, and netted them against the hungry birds. Nothing has germinated yet. The two stubby sweet potatoes I brought from Boston have made dozens of little "slips" that are ready to go into the ground... if the ground ever warms up enough to plant them! The animals spend their evenings lounging in front of the fire as if it was January. On my birthday the sky spat snow.
I am going to an ambitious conference in Santiago de Compostela in a couple of weeks. I had hoped to walk there from Lugo, a little less than a week, a little more than 100 kilometers, over a backwoods path. The hiking part of the plan is looking more and more remote -- so many things are happening here, what with the tax forms due at the end of the month, and plumbing backup somewhere under the hallway floor, and Bruno and Elan in need as well. I traded my mostly-waterproof standby Timberland boots to a pilgrim a while back, and do not relish the idea of Galician cart-paths in my leaky old dog-gnawed Vasques. And it´s still freakin´ COLD out there.
Even if all the news isn´t joyful, Moratinos is the center of the universe these days. People come here from hundreds of miles away to paint walls and re-hang chicken-house doors. If I go out hiking in the woods, I might miss some of the win-winning that´s going on.
Maybe I will take the train to Santiago. I can always walk back if I want. That is how lucky I am.