Saturday, February 19, 2011

Familiarity Breeds Content





Last night I stayed up while the moon travelled more than half way to its eastern descent, and now I am watching the sun come up over the mountains. The birds get so excited, there's no sleeping late with the windows open. Guess they can't hold it in their pea brains that this is a daily occurrence. I gotta find a better time to write than late night or I'll never sleep. Now a group of about 30 bluebird-types are swarming round and round in some cloverleaf pattern. It reminds me of how old asian people do tai chi together in parks (and how Dave wears circular paths..) It must be some kind of zen communal health and training program shared by the species. I watch the sheep down the hill socializing in their specific manner. I love how they make a wall, together bracing themselves when the wind whips up from the west. We've watched a few storms come across the ocean, driving the waves wickedly and high onto the rocky shores. This makes serious surfers come out in their wetsuits. Later in the night, the sea settles and Dave and I look at that expanse and talk about sailing. The only other ones out on these seas are commercial fishing vessels, and we can see their bright lights late into the night.


Practically the entire spectrum of landscape is so close at hand and magnificent that if I were born to this place, I'd probably want to protect and keep it for my family too. The flag of the Basque region is modeled on the union jack and you see the separatists' colors graffitied here and there. No Spanish is spoken unless you start speaking it. I hiked through a grove of tall pines, past blooming wildflowers and small verdant farm plots. The black-faced sheep ambled right to the fence next to me, curious to see who was treading the otherwise lightly-used road. The hills rise up nearly at my shoulders in some places. It's incredible how these old towns were cut and wedged into this mountainous coastal land. If you were planning to settle here, the only choice is to cultivate and find livestock that can adapt to the mountains. When you look up, and not while driving, you see the squares of terraced plantings striped with stone retaining walls. These are cut into old growth pine forests which are interrupted by corduroy patches of grape vines grown vertically and, immediately adjacent to small velvet pastures with their cottony polka dots of grazing sheep.


Whew! All that to say my brain finds familiarity in these patterns and textures and the reference is the humble quilts that peasants and poor people made with clothing worn beyond repair. A longtime purveyor of old things, this is my particular landscape, the place I passionately protect and hope to pass on.The sun is now high enough to warm the path to the ocean, so I'm off to explore some more. The oceanscape with it's rocky cliffs and boulders is completely different. Of course I'll have a narrative to work out there because I can't help myself. I don't want to miss or forget anything and think if you're reading this, you should't either.


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