Monthly Archives: August 2014

Holy Days: the final part

Archery, a circus festival and full moon somewhere in the midst of a forgotten mountain village tucked far away in the Western Pyrenees. Medieval times revisited? No way! What we experience today is as happening and engaging as can be.

Luna and me are being installed next to each other with bow and arrows in front of two seperate targets. Our first attempt at archery is about to take place. I’m quietly impressed, wanted to do this already for a long time. Here we are, right now! Our Spanish instructor invites us to move a bit closer to the target. To prevent us from giving up too easily, my guess. Another repetition of how to stretch the bow pointing down, hence rising it while stretching it more and more until the left arm is horizontal and points perfectly straight ahead while the right arm pulls the cord. With just one finger and even that one, almost not touching the cord, holding it at the very tip of the finger, stretching the bow as much as possible. Until the right hand comes next to the right cheek and holds still to focus, finally releasing the cord swift and silently. That’s all for the instruction course. We’re being left alone and there we go. Over and over again. Figuring out which eye to close, searching our arrows somewhere in the field behind the target, competitively giving each other ‘the look’ if the arrow hits the target reasonably focused. The tip of our finger is meant to hurt. We don’t feel it. We go on and on, loving it.

The next day the inner part of my right elbow is completely bruised from the cord that’d slapped several times against it, the price for not keeping my arm completely straight at all times. I hope someone will ask after the exaggerated bleu-ish green bruise, just for the fun of proudly recounting of our first archery experience.

After some indefenite time we proceed further into the fresh and sunny late afternoon by driving on to the tiny old village centre of Villanau. We come across several well fitted outdoor walkers. A beautiful part of the so called French camino de Santiago trail passes through Villanau, supplying the scenery with yet another remnant of centuries past: pelgrimage.
At the tiniest Plaza Major I’ve come across in Spain so far, the decor is set for a circus festival. It uncommonly consists of three seperate artist ensembles, travelling together but each one performing on their own stage. So we find ourselves in between three different stages at three different sides of the little square plaza, already packed to the fullest with local and visiting Spanish families. The peaceful and impressive backdrop of rising mountains under a bright blue late-afternoon sky is pretty overwhelming. To me that is. The people around me are not for a moment being distracted from their cheerful chatting and laughing. Until the spectacle takes off and we’re soon all being dazzled by trapeze work, acrobat acts, music from the soundtrack of Grease and Indian folkoric songs. Twice we’ve got to move by ourselves the wooden benches we are sitting on, turning them into the direction of the following performance, facing the next stage. Acting as sullen spectators, leisurably being entertained by hard working artists, it takes a lot of confusion and unexpected teamwork to get this done. Interactivity at a very basic level, as engaging as it is funny. All this is taking place at the tiniest Main Square (Plaza Major) of the age old village of Villanau (new village), adorned by well kept rustic houses, bright red flowers dangling down from artisinal pottery outside the windows. Romanticism at it’s best.

After I don’t know how much time, the festival finishes. The Spanish quickly resume their laughing and chatting. We’re leaving the enchanted circus scene, happily surprised by the very present and deeply satisfied. A giant bright yellow moon is rising to it’s fullest. That beautiful feminine moon, as overwhelming as the mountains it highlights, is fooler then full tonight.

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Holy Days II

On a late afternoon I am struck by a most picture perfect #home and country style living# scene. On velvety green grass surrounding a picturesque cottage, I walk up to my host, father of four and owner of four popular London based restaurants. He sits in front of a clay open air pizza oven, shuffling a large stainless steel shovel-like ‘peel’ in and out, sliding baked goods a bit further to and from the fire inside.

He and the pizza oven are set in a private orchard-garden surrounded by lavish green vales and hills. We are talking Dorset, next to rich and beautiful Somerset. At a two hours driving distance from London, sheltered today by blue skies that are finely larded with breezy white strokes.

William Wordsworths’ poem:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils…
could have been written exactly here instead of in the Lake District.

A couple of Adirondack or Canadian chairs, typical for Maine, prop perfectly the simple out and about life style. The wooden, elegant yet rustic garden furniture originally from Westport USA was acquired after their last oversees holidays. This morning under a fresh summers’ downpour it was put together by hand. During the same time my friend, fierce- and beautiful mother of the earlier mentioned four, prepared pizza dough, adding some rye flour to consolidate it.

The picture perfect home and country style living scene also depicts seven kids, sitting about the green orchard, devouring their self topped pizzas. Featuring a backdrop like as if turning the next page of that very sensuous magazine: slowly changing colors into orange and purplish.

Hence the kids start to play games involving throwing apples at each other and tossing an egg. Laughing and enthusiastic screams make us turn our heads away from our light-hearted conversation facing the glowing fire in the stone oven. Now turned into dedicated supporters we sit by the kids’ nameless and priceless games. Until around the same time we all decide the game is over. As harmonious as only fiction has it, the seven kids at once run inside to go and watch a movie while we assemble a stack of empty round wooden cutting boards, an empty wine bottle and left over Pellegrino.

While we’re leaving the perfect magazine scene, the sky over the cattle fields and lush green bushes sets on fire. So it seems. The beauty of it not to be pictured nor described. But to imagine!