I love a good ending. I love a good beginning even more.
And here it is, the first day of September. A bit of both. All the abundanza of the end of summer, the lush gardens, the grapevines coming on strong, a sky full of thunderheads. But when I am outside at 1 a.m. with Orion and Mars and the stars, it's almost cold.
Crickets sing in the dark. On the little boom-box we play Muddy Waters and Jussi Bjorling. One speaker points out onto the patio, and one into the kitchen. Someday we will get a proper stereo. We are kinda afraid what the dust here would do to a proper stereo. We will stick with the cheap option until they stop manufacturing these things. Then, well.
Silence is great. But everyone should have some "Long Distance Call" on September first, when the night is warm and the little string of solar bulbs switches itself on, the white wine comes up from the bodega at the just-right temperature. The end of a day of planting out the Fall crop of kale and chard and lettuce, topping up the dog- and chicken-feed, finally paying back Julia with a box of eggs for her many tons of apples, plums, membrillo and advice. (Her hens stopped laying when the men started re-roofing their house. Hens are touchy critters, and this time of year they molt -- they change their feathers, they stop laying. Bob Canary changes his feathers, and stops singing. Everybody needs a holiday.)
The Spaniards are back at home, back at school. All last week the trains were full, Moratinos and Sahagun teemed with out-of-towners, but their numbers slowly slackened. The Spanish summer madness winds down. The European Camino madness winds up. More and more foreigners show up now, thinking they won't have to compete for lodgings and dinner-tables. There's litter on the trails. A paint-can philosopher worked-over our labyrinth in the last couple of days, advising passing pilgrims that "The Silence Speaks."
(The Silence has spoken there for centuries without any help from dumb-asses with spray paint.)
And so it continues.
The Peaceable was busy in the past week. Patrick and I took turns going to Madrid to help a friend who's feeling low. I attended an Anglican Eucharist, which is always utterly delicious. We hosted pilgrims here, met some fine people, heard some great guitar music, ate razor clams and sardines and drank some good vino.
It is tempered by the troubles of our friend. And Momo Cat going on another walkabout. And my own issues. I developed a toothache at the end of the week, and lost a good portion of the weekend to pain and pain-killers. Worrisome things. Paddy made lovely soup from beans and bacon. I harvested the tomatoes out back and made the year's finest gazpacho. Tortillas, salsa, rice, easy things to eat. I am well cared-for.
And today... today was textbook late summer. The morning dog-walk was lovely, the dogs all had good runs and tumbles, almost no blood was shed, nothing was killed, we ran into no hunters, and all returned panting and well-aired. We went into town and found almost everything on the list -- alas, no dentist available until Thursday! Out on the camino I spread manure and calendula seeds and lots of water round the base of the Phil Wren Memorial Tree, and discovered the mess at the labyrinth.
My tooth did not hurt so much, long as I didn't use it for anything.
We made naan bread, a weekly team event. We read books, sitting out on the patio with dog noses poking at us. In the silence of the afternoon I went all round the walls of the house next door calling for Momo, just in case he was locked inside one of their outbuildings. (Mo has a distinctive bourbon-and-cigarettes sort of meow, and he answers when I call him.)
No Mo. How tiresome.
I took a nap.
The sun went low. The dogs lolled and wrestled on the patio. We had naan and gazpacho out there, listened to Steely Dan on the speaker, talked about old friends, and the old house that's for sale downtown.
And just as Paddy wound up a discourse on Heideggar, we heard a noise.
A yowl. A yip. Unmistakeable. Paddy's eyes met mine, and we both gaped and grinned.
Momo Cat, up on the barn roof, shouting to be let into the house. Home again, the bad cat!
And so our evening is complete, our family circle re-connected. We put the hound dogs to bed in the barn, and opened up the front door so Mo and Tim and Rosie could join us in the gloaming.
Beauty, it was.
The music ended on the box. The crickets took up the tune.
And now, upstairs, I can hear Patrick snoring. Down here by my feet, Tim snorts in his sleep, too.
My tooth hurts, yeah. But everything is so fine.
Even with a bad tooth, I have to say it: I live in the best place in all the world.