Sunday, 22 August 2010

what we do with time

Time. Bend it, stretch it, eat it up by glancing at watches, slow it down by observing fireside flames. Count time in stitches, laps, cooking minutes, sun and moon cycles, growing wrinkles. Time is what makes us know that we once began, that we are in the middle, that there is an end. Days and moments can feel like eternity and then children change overnight. You look around and they are no longer babes. You can make art from time and make time into art. You can be scared of time, like in a waiting room, or relish every moment, like a good slow breakfast involving people, newspapers, eggs, cheese, apricot jam, pretty napkins, green tea and then coffee. Time is repetitive, cyclical and then sometimes things happen which leave marks in time which makes a time start that never happened before. A new time. Childhood time is endless, flexible as a strawberry jelly fom a Spanish supermarket, especially before kids learn about death. My daughters say, " I will be like that when I am younger". Time, I want to make it last forever.

Friday, 13 August 2010

coming home

We are home. On the journey back from the South to the North, we leave dry Aragon and the deep Spanish lakes; an arid red land patched with blue. We drive up and through the Pyrennes, with black smoke steaming from the back of our van. We slip into the tunnel that goes under the mountains. We stop in France, eat melon, cheese and chips, sat on a wall in the sun. We fall down the slopes into rolling countryside. The Gers makes us think of soft English landscapes. A man drives a silver rolls Royce in the summer sun. We stop in a town and buy blue sandals for two euros and a toy parrot, which my daughter calls Sky. We sleep that night in a municipal campsite near a man travelling with a tent the size of his body. He has walker's calf muscles and a sturdy face. Yesterday, tired in the white stone of the Charentes region, we find ourselves stuck in a leisure park with country-dancing, giant barbecues and far too many people. Too many people.
Today, we are home, sucking up the bits of the voyage. There is the washing, the answerphone, the emails, the post and the smiles of the courtyard neighbours. The emptying of bags. Crumbs of the holidays falling on our floor. Packets of tortes are arranged on a shelf. The flat feels big after the space of the van. There are the seagulls and the iodine smell of the sea. The small, quiet sadness that a trip is over. The happiness of the return.

Monday, 9 August 2010

here in aragon

Here in Aragon, Spain, we are steeped in the shadows of spindly pine trees whose shadows shelter us from the blinding heat. The tiny campsite is almost crushed by cliffs of red rock, which surround us on all sides. I write on paper, we swim in another lake daily and drink beer in the waterside cafe. The temperatures sear, the landscape is arid, frighteningly bare. We all melt at some point in the day, recovering as night falls, after a six o'clock dip in the turquoise blue water. We have just eaten a meal of squid, red juice seeped in bread, drunk local wine, finished with sweet white melon. The light is fading, the insects are singing. We've being visiting hillside towns, watched priests chanting in beautiful byzatine cathedrals, drunk cafe con leche, searched for unfound cheap sandals. Got to go now, dark is coming.