Friday, 17 July 2015

Hotter than July

Now it's July. The priest is gone for now, the fields are cut and dried-out. Mornings and dusks are splendid, but the daytime in between is spectacularly hot -- I cannot walk across the patio in bare feet without screaming.

I love July. It is long and hot and full of swallows. Friends ask me to come and visit, friends like Laurie up in O Cebreiro. We drove all around a hidden valley of Galicia, we shared champagne with pilgrims for Canada Day (Laurie is from Canada), we shopped for antiques in Sarria, we stayed up late and solved the world's problems and discussed our respective projects and literary efforts. I weeded the labyrinth... how many people can say they did that?

On the way out of town we heard a big racket, and this little guy came tumbling out of a ruined basement and into the street. I took him home. Paddy calls him Leonard. I call him Inky. He's a pistol of a kitten. 

Days later, I took a train to a little town called A Rua, and met up with another Laurie (this one from Illinois) who was striding her way across Spain from Girona. She was taking the Camino Invierno for the last bit, and you know I really love that trail... so I went with her, all the way to Chantada. The hikes were quite long -- about 28 km per day. The afternoons got very hot very quickly. I was surprised at how well it went for me. No blisters, no sunburn, just a nice righteous tiredness at the end of each day. I enjoyed myself out there. But when the day came I was supposed to climb over a mountain right in the middle of a 32 km. stretch, with temperatures expected to reach 98 F... I said "Time to get the bus back to Monforte and the train back to Sahagun!" The last couple of summers have taught me good lessons about hiking in high heat. I am simply too blonde to withstand it.

The workers are still beavering away in our house, but they are "finish carpenters." I see that word "finish" and my heart goes pitty-pat! We only need to get the water-heater hooked up down there, and the kitchen units installed... Meantime, Paddy and I are moving 16 tons of dust-laden junk into some sort of logical storage. We got the big chest freezer rolled across the patio and into the newly-finished storage room today, just in time for the first drops of rain in a month! There's still a bunch of stuff left to shift out there, but we go easy on ourselves. Paddy is having asthma symptoms these days, likely outcomes of the dust and the kitten. I don't drive him too hard. Not usually!

Yesterday I had a bit of fun: Me and my friend Maria de la Valle and her little daughter Luka went to the little playground (aka "el plantillo") and built a little playhouse out of scrap lumber, sticks, and greenery. It's a simply tripod with sticks tied-together with clothesline and a grid of lighter lumber lashed on and covered in branches and leaves. I used a couple of left-behind pilgrim staffs to give it some color. We did a fine job. I hope to help build more little natural shelters around here as the children arrive for their summer breaks. Everybody loves a playhouse, and building one can involve the parents, too!

On Sunday the Texas Guitar Quartet is playing here in Moratinos, and accompanying the Sunday Mass -- part of the Camino Arts guitar series. Afterward we're hosting a Big Feed over at our house, two kinds of paella, salad, melon, and drinks, out on the newly-cleaned-up patio. We hope for some live music out there, a wonderful summertime treat when it happens. I just hope it's not too infernally HOT... because the inside of the house is still in a dusty disorder, too.

We have pilgrims, now and then. Last night, quite late, three lovely young French sisters bicycled up the driveway right at sundown. The albergue was closed, they'd come all the way from Hornillos (80 kilometers in a day!) They were hungry and grubby. Fed, showered, laundered, and batted-about by Leonard, they slept like stones in the salon, and slipped away at 6 a.m. today.

Things are going well at San Anton. One of the scheduled hospitaleros had to excuse himself due to a family crisis, but two others stepped right up to fill the gap -- one of them is driving all the way from Germany! I wrote up a "first three months" report on what's gone on so far. It's a rewarding project. Everyone is sleeping happily on the fat new mattresses, the Animal Rescue from Burgos came and took away the baby owl, and the Milky Way puts on a quietly spectacular show almost every night up there between the ruined arches.

In between all this are long quiet days of just us. They are the most beautiful of all.

With August comes our second Meseta Mass priest, here for three whole weeks. I am striving to get a "What Is A Bodega?" sign erected over at the Castillo before the fiesta -- anyone out there have graphic design skills they can contribute? The remodeling will (please God) finally be finished, and Ollie will come back to help me put everything away.