I have been walking the last month in preparation for my camino. Mostly on my grid road which is about a mile and a half to the top of the hill and the same back. The first few rounds I dragged my self home hurting everywhere it was possible to hurt. My knees, my hips, my poor bunion. But I have also been walking with George the last couple weeks in town after my bus run on the track. I could only do 5 laps which quickly progressed to ten and this week to twelve. About two and a half miles. But there have been track meets yesterday and today so my walks have been curtailed as I don’t want to compete with the kids for a lane. Today I parked on the north end and walked on the walking path. The ring road is adjacent and the noise from the traffic was unbelievable. When I walk at home there is maybe one or two cars on the grid but this was non stop semi and truck traffic. Just awful. I usually listen to CBC radio but it was drowned out by the traffic. On the grid I can hear the birds and frogs even over the radio. You couldn’t pay me to move back to town. It’s not till you have something to compare to that you know what you’ve got!!
Well, we didn’t have to wait too long for the weather to smarten up–in fact today it was 32C. I’m not used to it. It switches so fast from cold to hot with no time to acclimatize. I broke down and went flower shopping, something I said I wouldn’t do this summer. I’m trying to save some money but I couldn’t resist. I found some lovely Portulaca, one of my favorites and some Nicotiana, a bright fuchsia color. I love color–the wilder and more mixed up it is the more I like it. I also got some petunias and a grape vine. George’s grape did wonderful things last year and the jelly was awesome. I want to grow some grapes. My mother had a grape vine for years on the front railing of the house. When I was small she found me sitting on the steps with purple smears all over my face–she hadn’t known her vine had produced grapes. I will finish the garden this weekend–I keep saying I will cut back because I won’t be here to harvest, but I’m having a hard time trying to decide what NOT to grow. I love my garden. It makes me happy. I hated weeding my mother’s garden when I was a kid, but I can happily spend hours in my garden weeding. It is so satisfying to see the lovely rows of my favorite foods, all produced with no chemicals. Maybe Aidan and I can put in the spuds tomorrow evening if its not too hot. Once I get one thing in the ground, the rest just follows. I love my garden!
This spring is so unusual weather wise. One day it’s beautiful, warm, sunny calm…the next day rain, clouds, wind, cold. Yuch!!! I tilled the garden the other day and yesterday morning raked one half of it. Then the rain started. I’m not quite so dedicated to work in the rain. But the soil tilled deep and rich with all the new manure I put on. I was really hoping to get the spuds in at least this weekend but it’s not to be. Forecast for next week is lovely so I guess I will not sweat the small stuff and just do what I can,when I can.
So I have been researching things on the Camino forum and this morning, like many mornings, I was reading about the horrors of bed bugs. Several years ago when my daughter, sister and I went to Europe, I woke up in Venice with what we called spider bites, on my forehead. Largish, reddish, painless itchy welts. Somewhat unsightly but I didn’t really think too much about it. Could have been mosquito bites, or gnats etc. But now, reading all the horrors of the Camino alberques and the bed bug infestations, I’m thinking that may have been what got me in Venice. So now, how to prevent the bites, and also the bringing home of the little darlings. Treating sleeping bags and packs with permethrin is one of the preferred methods, but this insecticide is not available in Canada. Therefore, do I want to use something not available in Canada? Supposedly low toxicity to humans but deadly to cats (and bed bugs). I can get it in Spain before I start. I could also buy a commercially treated sheet that fits over the mattresses and stops the bugs from getting into my sleeping bag. Many pilgrims report never seeing a bug their whole travels, but its the just in case thing. Lavender is also supposed to slow them down, but many people report lavender is ineffective. What to do? Bites are one thing, but I really don’t want to be a vector and transport them anywhere–my relatives in Vienna or to my own home. Several weeks in the freezer kills eggs, larvae and adult bugs–as does hot wash, hot dry, or dry cleaning. I suppose once I reach the end I will hot wash/ dry clean everything before heading to family, and throw everything into the freezer, (or an outside shed at home). A Canadian winter should kill just about everything. I’m going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
My daughter helped me set up this blog–it is meant to be a way of communicating with folks back home when I leave in the fall on my pilgrimage. A sort of story telling to entertain my mom, and let my kids know I’m alright, not that they will be too worried. In some ways it is easier to be the ones left behind–nothing changes, days flow together and life goes on as usual. The one leaving, in this case, me, has all the angst of wondering if anything is happening back home, have I done everything I could to make sure all will go smooth in my absence? Not that everything goes smoothly when I’m home. It is letting go, releasing control into the more than capable hands of my daughter, and just relaxing to enjoy my journey. I have a few months the prepare and then I have to let go because I cannot complete my journey if I am not “in the moment”. This pilgrimage, whose purpose I still do not know, has been calling to me for several years now. I suppose the purpose will become clear to me at some point on the path–or maybe after I get home. But for now I have to develop some discipline in completing a blog entry every day, even if I think there is nothing to write about. So today there will be no photos, only a jumble of thoughts. I have not done any writing for years and so have to develop some sort of “style” , a voice. I hope it will become easier. Ultreia !
It was a dreary day yesterday…so cold for the middle of May. I’ve been craving something yummy in the mornings before my bus run, something with potatoes and eggs…like my first Spanish tortilla, purchased in a Barcelona bar before a bus trip to visit a Black Madonna in a mountain monastery. The bartender cut a fat wedge of some pale yellow layered “cake” that was under a glass dome on the counter. I didn’t know what it was, but the first bite was heaven–creamy eggs, layers of starchy potatoes and crunchy onions–absolutely the best thing I’d ever had for breakfast, especially with a hot sweet cup of tea. I’ve never been able to successfully re-create this; it is a fear of using so much oil to “boil” the potatoes. And of course, you can never go back. I know the taste is bound up in the whole experience of the early morning light on the mountains heading up to the Monastery of Montserrat, the beauty of the black wooden statue, worn smooth by the thousands of hands that caressed the orb the Virgin holds–it is no doubt encased in glass now, when I was there, it was open and accessible.
So I settled for second best. I grow a large garden but my storage facilities are lacking–I keep my potatoes in the pump house which is alternately too hot and too cold. This time of year my spuds are wrinkled shrivelled shadows of their former selves, spouting knobs that may have been a potato in a former life. A friend of mine, whose storage facilities are superior to mine, gave me a bag of Purple Carribes. They are solid, smooth purple, dusty with soil–looking for all the world like they had just been dug up minutes ago. Add some farm eggs, garden onions (which seem to like the nasty conditions in the pump house and keep quite well), leftover ham, creamy Havarti, and voila–breakfast for the next week!
So yesterday and today I fired up my old tractor. Thanks to Tractor Man, who heroically worked this spring in the cold and coaxed some life back into the beast, it fired up first try. My goal was to move some black gold from the pile in the back corral out to the garden. I can’t remember when I fertilized the garden last; was it last spring or the fall previous? This pile of sheep manure has been “cooking” the better part of 25 years and is just perfect for putting in the garden. A sheeps’ digestive tract breaks everything down, and the heat generated from the pile kills all the weed seeds and nasty diseases that may come from the bedding. A perfect blend of organic yumminess for the garden…In any event, I moved about a dozen tractor buckets full and have another eight or ten to go…nothing makes me happier than when things go according to plan. I hope to get my daughter and Louis, the wonder pony, to drag the harrows over the piles and spread them out before I till. It has been so cold this spring, I’m not sure anything can be planted till the soil warms up. There were snow flakes mixed in with a shower a day ago–no leaves on the trees yet, or even swelling buds. It just looks desolate. The birds are all back though, geese and more ducks than I can remember seeing for years. But now, off to do chores.