Friday, 21 March 2014


last year´s grapevines

The new young chestnut trees, the olive tree in the plaza, the pine trees out back. They grow at a slant from the winter winds, but they grow. They survive.
Modesto, 80-something, still hiking out to examine his fields in the morning, still planting new strawberry plants in his big walled garden, still telling everyone how to do things better. He´s emerged in his slippers and Cardigan from his long hibernation. He is up early, marching round the town he´s marched around for most of a century. Winter has marked maps of veins on his face. Modesto does not climb up on the tractor any more, but he is ruddy and sharp.
Modesto´s son-in-law and grandson are farmers out of San Nicolas. They spread nitrate fertilizer, they plow under the winter ryegrass, their tractors crawl and swarm over their fields and Modesto´s these sunny days, rejoicing in the warmth, grumbling that it´s high time for some rain. They burn the brush in the ditches. I burned the brush out back this week, I accidentally burned a little tree of horsetail, it exploded upward like a Roman candle and I felt very sad, like I had injured a child. It will grow back, like the piñon and the Toby Tree out back grew back after I burned them a few years ago.
Out back there, right by the gate, some passing pilgrim dropped his pants and made a poo, complete with toilet paper. I was affronted. Then I looked a few feet away at the mountain of moldering cow manure, a commodity hereabouts. Almost no difference. I shoveled cow dung over the poo. I covered that sin with grace. 
Under the burnt black surface of the yard, down under the crunchy ash,  I see green. The earth is coming back to life, pushing past last year´s growth and this week´s fire, up into the light.


1 comment:

Warren said...

Probably as you started your pilgrimage, I am starting mine. My second daughter is getting ready to leave for college in the fall. I am putting the house on the market today. Cleaning out closets. Turning ovEr my past. Planting seeds for my future. Reading books, walking more. Publicly declaring my intentions. Just as when I left NYC when I turned 30, friends seem taken aback. My willingness to MOVE seems to frighten them. my children seem less surprised. Slightly envious. But I think also grateful that their departing isn't going to fetter me.