Thursday, April 19, 2007

Farrera, mi amor

I am back again. It's very funny. This time, I was packed up, sitting in the library, playing with the computer at 1pm. My bus was scheduled for 2:45 down in the town of Llavorsí. Twelve rich women from Barcelona were due in two hours, to take the entire centre over for a three day painting workshop. I was gazing out at the lump, which is what I´ve affectionately called the hill opposite--we gaze at one another all day, every day, and I'm absolutely in love with it--when in walked Lluís with a look on his face that made me feel like somebody, somewhere, had done something wrong, and perhaps it was me. Perhaps I had left a stain on the floor of my room. Perhaps the balcony was coming unhinged from my standing on it every afternoon, after a previous evenings of Cesca´s chocolate cake and avocado mousse. But then, 12 Barcelona women magically turned into 10 Barcelona women. He said, "You have the option of returning to your room, your same room, if you like. We would certainly like you to." I took it in very slowly, which may have made him say, "And if you need a reorientation, to say, 'you are still in Farrera, you are not currently on a bus to Barcelona' I can do that as well." I took him up on both offers. So that day, I packed up, they cleaned my room, I unpacked again. It was superb. Now I get to stay as long as I like (until near the end of April) and I am free to admire the lump, read, pace, go for walks and bother cuckoos, and generally fall even more in love. Imagine if the call from the missing women had come two hours later! So fortunate!

Other than that, there are only more nature stories of greening pasture, small flowers in the forest, brimming village fountains and sheep sent down to the crossroads to munch on the high grass in the lowlands while waiting for the summer pastures to climb slowly out of hibernation. I'm writing consistantly, and staying has made sense for the work as well as the heart.

That, and I found out tonight over dinner that the small pool in the river that I found, with a hand carved wooden spout that leads water down its small channel to cascade into the pool like a shower, was made by Cisco, the man I spend a day in the orchard with, learning how to graft fruit trees and, eventually, wild rose bushes with cultivated stock roses. (Whose house is a never ending work of art, a story I told last entry.) It makes perfect sense. Cesca said the pool is their version of going to the beach. Today as I was walking along a path to Alendo, the next village over, I came across one of the ubiquitous black water pipes, sticking out of the ground in the middle of nowhere and streaming water from its mouth. The irrigation complexities here are truly amazing. Beside the pipe, resting in the crook of two rocks, was a water glass, ready for use.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Bordes de Burg

Today I went walking with Cesca and Lluís and Lluís´ brother and Axel, the Finn. We walked up over 1000 feet, to 1800 metres through pine woods, across old fields, through scrub, and into a series of old houses used by Shepherds and before by the children of families who took the livestock up to summer on the pastures higher up in the mountains. The houses are stone, build for summer comfort, with chimneys that have turned the insides shiny black with soot, and barns for the animals at night. They would leave the children up there with the older ones for the whole summer, and they would run down, two together, if someone broke a leg. Beautiful high pastures that you would never know existed from looking up from the town. Then past them, even higher, to a long ago lake, that is now a swamp or a bog that has many frogs in the summer. We walked across the lake to a patch of earth underneath the pines, ate apples and olives and cheese and almonds and jamon, and then flew down the snowy slopes (there was 2 to 3 feet of snow for the last 200 metres or so) by jumping into the drifts. It was beautiful. The view from the top is spectacular, so much more of the actual Pyrenees visible, their shiny snow surfaces gleaming in the sun. I woke up this morning to the first pure clear day in ages, and it was warm enough that we hiked up in t-shirts. The water was running in all the streams. Some of the old barns and cottages are caved in, but some have been redone recently, and are very cozy looking summer protection places. And the light is spectacular. We saw tracks of a bear, skunk, tons of birds, and deer, as well as the ploughed up parts of the pastures where the wild pigs had been digging in the night.

Once down, we were invited into Cisco and La La's house, which is directly above Cesca and Lluís'. He has rosemary fresh drying in the rafters, and each stone from his house has a story, literally. he started pointing them out, telling how this one came from a river near here, this one from Farrera valley, this one when he saw it from his car and pulled over. Cesca told stories of an extremely slow Reneau lugging itself up the hillside one day--of course it was Cisco's, and it was filled with rocks. His stairs are pieces of wood inset into the walls of the house itself by 18 inches, and have no supporting rail on the outside. Very beautiful. The only room that is finished is the bathroom, which looks like a display suite, and was done because his wife kept asking for an indoor toilet. Otherwise, the house is a work of art in progress, and his attention keeps getting diverted by pieces of wood that look like something, and that he must carve into full being with his knife. I swear sometimes this village feels very much like living in the gulf islands. He fed us wine out of a carafe that you tip quickly into your mouth, using a tiny spout, and pour and swallow until you're satisfied (the spout never touching your mouth) and tip it back, quickly, so as not to spill, and pass it on. He fed his cats the remains of the anchovies he was eating for lunch, and refused to come to dinner unless it was at at least 8:30pm. No earlier, please, for any self respecting Catalan. The normal hour, at this time of year, is more like around 9:30.

And now I am back and very tired, and will rest and read in bed. Happy Semana Santa, everyone.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Farrera, de nuevo

I am back in the mountains. Can Serrat was a disaster, and fortunately I kept my head just enough to be able to flee, as fast as I could. I am here until the 14th of April, at which point I'll descend into Barcelona for the last two weeks before I return to the island. It feels both a very long and very short time since I've been home. But in the meeantime, I am very happy to be out of that place and back in La Bastida, with view of fields and sound of river, rather than view of enlarged culvert and sound of freeway. The extra cost is worth the sanity, which is returning.