The gota fría arrived with a vengeance and washed cars down the main street of Antequera, took the river over its banks in Riogordo, and left my car cleaner than it had been all summer. The sudden storms at the end of the summer, when warm air rising from the sea meets the cooler upper airstreams, are fortunately brief, and we are left with the fresh smell of damp leaves all around.
Now it’s sunshine again, and still warm enough for short sleeves in the streets of Málaga after midnight. But the change is definitely on its way.
Noting the change of seasons in England, a friend asked on Facebook what people had achieved over the summer. Her friends responded with great crops of vegetables, weight loss, good tans, promotions, teaching a spaniel to swim, and learning about balance, failures and successes in life.
I asked my friends about their achievements too. Weight loss was there again, as were good tans! Learning to juggle a family of three … and learning that sometimes good enough is good. Completing a 31st World Naked Bike Ride to protest against oil dependence. Watching a child blossom. Going off round Europe on a motorbike. Small achievements and massive achievements.
I walked this morning to my usual place, the thinking place, the Enchanted Place Sunshine warm against my skin, that strong smell of damp earth, and the huge chumbo plants heavy with fruit. The long grass is scorched and brittle, and crunches under my feet. The curved rows in the fields are straight from a Van Gogh painting. The end of summer.
Last weekend at our street party I enjoyed eating a freshly-picked fig – my mother’s favourite fruit but I had thought I didn’t like them. Turns out I do. I also ate my first chumbo – those massive spiky fruits, de-thorned and split open with Rafael’s big penknife. My first attempt drew laughter from the gathered neighbours – I was trying to suck the fruit without eating the pips. They all demonstrated with gusto – two big bites and down the throat, pips and all. My second attempt brought applause and a slap on the back. Poco a poco.
Summer isn’t normally the time to consider achievements. It’s normally the time to look forward and to make plans. But I’m proud of my summer. Apart from eating figs and chumbos, I managed to make a couscous dish that impressed my neighbours at our party; I’ve properly become used to Spanish hours (and have partied till 4am five nights a week, some weeks!); I’ve joined in the comfortable neighbourly doorstep chatter in the cool midnight air; I’ve improved my Spanish no end; and I’ve learned to speak cateto. I’ve got good long-standing friends who provide support when needed, and have made good new friends who sustain my new Spanish life. My blood pressure is back to normal and I’m off all medication. But perhaps my proudest achievement was that two weeks ago I went five full days without speaking a single word of English – just Spanish from morning till …. umm …. well into the madrugada (the small hours!).
I continue to be amazed that the blog is still going, and even more amazed that people are reading it. It is now listed on the Colmenar ayuntamiento website, and it was listed in Saga’s top blogs. The number of readers on the Eye on Spain site astonishes me, and on its home page at WordPress the number of subscribers continues to rise. I did get a whole lot of new subscribers after the San Juan entry “Pagan Nights” was re-blogged and re-tweeted by a number of major pagan newsletters – however they all UN-subscribed two weeks later when they realised I was not actually a pagan blogger! That little blip aside, I am grateful to all those who follow and comment on this simple web-log of life in my little corner of the Axarquía region of Málaga province.
© Tamara Essex 2013
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT:
Some friends were chatting about “frases hechas” (“made phrases”, or what we would call “sayings”) and one Spanish man explained that “un acento cerrado, a cal y canto” which I had written about a few weeks ago in “Can’t Be Translated”, is even more complicated than I’d thought. “Un acento cerrado, a cal y canto” translates as “A closed accent, bolted and barred”, meaning a very thick or strong accent. But in fact “a cal y canto” means something more like “belt and braces”, or doubly-sure. And that makes sense in the “bolted and barred” translation. A younger Spaniard had heard the phrase but didn’t understand it, as the words literally mean “lime and stone”, and when the first man was explaining it was something to do with painting a surface, then finishing it off or smoothing it down, I couldn’t follow the detail. But it certainly seems as though “belt and braces” is a good translation!