Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What Happens When You´re Gone

MoMo, before I left. The patio in order, more or less

I was gone for two weeks. It was an odd holiday, set out in five parts:
+ a big shmooze in Santiago de Compostela,
+ a long walk down the beach and across the water to Portugal,
+ Lisbon and Sintra with three wild women,
+ the beach down south with Filipe and Dick, and
+ two days in Madrid with Patrick.

I traveled the first four with Kathy, my perrenial hiking pal from San Francisco.

Kathy and me, in Praia Altura, Portugal

Parts of the trip were beautiful and limpid. Parts were manky and cranky. I met Julio Llamazares, an author I admire. I sat in an ancient monastic church where the old Gallego ladies chanted the rosary, passing the prayer across the aisle in their oil-and-vinegar voices while the waves crashed against the sea-wall outside the open door. Farther south we poked through another empty monastery, this one a tiny cluster of cells cut into rocks and lined with cork-wood. I bought a handbag made of cork-wood. I slipped inside the hollowed-out heart of a big old cork oak tree, and it felt like an embrace.

I ate many, many fishes, caught fresh and roasted whole, and many shellfish, too. And squids, and cuttles, and octopi. The sea gave up its bounty to me, and I made sure her creatures did not die in vain.

Meantime, here at The Peaceable, the rain fell and the sun shone. Paddy oversaw the rebuilding of the plumbing connections under the patio, and replacement of the tiles. He fed the chickens and walked the dogs and watered the plants. All was well. The crops ripened in the fields, and out back, the grass grew.

Monday afternoon we came home.

Everyone was glad to see me. Tim, who has been dieting for a month, is noticeably slimmer and more energetic. There was no mail to speak of. No word from the tax lawyer, no news from England or America. Aside from a few half-mopped spills and some black vegetables under the sink, the place looked pretty well cared-for. I needn´t have worried. Paddy got along just fine without me.

And then I went out back to visit the hens.
I could not see the hens. The trees are in full leaf now, and the grass is thigh-high, swirled by the wind into whorls, hiding the chicken pen from sight. The garlic is budding, the onions will soon sprout afros. And the flowers, Oh my, the little orange and yellow calendula flowers that want to take over the flower bed... well. They´ve done it. They are bursting over the curbstones and spreading into the raised beds, colonizing the yard. They bloomed in a spectacular way sometime last week, and are this week gone spectacularly to seed, their dead heads smile with a thousand teeth each.

The vegetables? I am not sure. I have not looked. I think the potatoes have taken over their corner of the garden. There were French bean plants where there were none two weeks ago, but when I loosed the hens into the great green jungle, they made a beeline for the beans. They stripped the seeds off  the weeds, they leapt into the air to snatch moths in flight, they dusted themselves in the onion bed. They delighted and desported themselves out there, and I enjoyed the music as I began the slow work of dead-heading the vast banks of calendula flowers.

The sky is stormy. I worked with thunder grumbling to the south, I worked til the rain drove me indoors. I am not even half finished with that job. Tomorrow I must tie them up, and weed-whack round the raised beds. I must go to town and buy dog food and spray cleaner, and have the sickle sharpened. I must answer emails, just a few -- my email box had 400 unread messages in it, but only about 20 were worth reading. Tomorrow I will strip out the dross, unsubscribe to all those "quotes of the day" and decorator porn and Holiday Bargain sites.

I will chop out the weeds, clear up the things neglected while was away, doing maintenance on my self.   
Hens in the mayhem of what was the garlic patch


strangerthanfiction said...

No te preocupes! The garlic will prevail. Rampant calendulas are one of my favourite things about Spain. :)

archguitar said...

Nice piece. I think it must be a great place to come back to. I miss it.


Anonymous said...

lovely photos and lovely sentiment....

love, k

Jim King said...

Great to have you back. you were missed.

Libby said...

That picture of Mo is amazing!