I am constantly distracted from the beauty surrounding me by anguish of one sort or another.
Just now, leaning out the dining room window to look at the sun just cresting over the church to illuminate my side of the valley, a nightingale singing in a nearby lemon tree, my eye was drawn to the blood red poppies crowding the un-plowed corner of the neighbor’s land. The stump of a cherry tree which had always been there was an obstacle to him, and this corner of land was reverting to wild nature.
But the interior anguish rises like gorge. That cloud of cherry blossoms no longer is there in spring, not since the tree was taken by a disease or old age, the same year that Stephanie died, but the memory of her opening this window to watch it come to life, raises the limbs once more, briefly, and she makes that gesture so typical of her: both hands to her heart, a deep breath, and a light in her eye when she turns to me and says “Que dure” – may it last.
That was six years ago. Since then the stump. And for a long time, her gold cat Boris used that stump as his morning observation post. Ears and whiskers twitching as the gorriones flew in and out of a nearby lemon tree, teasing him with their immunity to his teeth and claws. Now the cat too is gone, but the trunk still speaks of him and her.
Just a few days ago, along one of the terraces on the other side of the torrente, two white horses raced back and forth along the narrow terrace, down an earthen ramp, the the terrace below, then racing back the other way till they reached the stone retaining wall at that end. There they brushed necks, shook their manes, snorted a while and then galloped back the other way.
Now one of the horses has been moved, and there is only one white horse. He still races along the top terrace and back, but does not descend the ramp, which has been blocked by a pile of brambles. I wonder if his running mate may have been injured, since the ramp, when I inspected it with binoculars, is really just a fallen portion of the stone wall supporting the terrace. Hundreds of these walls support orange groves, and above them lemon groves, and still further up, almonds and olives, which need less water and thus are planted far above the torrente.
The white horse, no longer sharing his days with one of his kind, has made an odd new friend – a white goose. A strange friendship, theirs. What they see in each other is impossible to figure out; but some sort of relationship it is. The goose struts about on his amigo‘s return from a dusty run, and the horse dips his head and nods. Then they drink together from the bidon left for them by Tolo – though the horses are not his, I am sure. The owner must pay him to do this, for Tolo is not particularly known for his love of animals.
Just as strange as the odd pair over there is my own pairing with Remedios.
I found two versions of this file, called The Valley.odt, The older one was dated 26 May 2012, but the version of 12 Nov 2012 had more detail and is the one I posted here.
Patrick Meadows 1934 – 2017.