October 29, full moon and (almost) howling wolves, 26km
It’s another clear and freezing morning bright with frost and my first without painkillers for many days. I have a bit of concern, but yesterday afternoon I bathed my leg in the purest coldest slate-tumbled stream, drank, listened and prayed. And I think whatever has been hurting will be getting better now. I realised that my course of action with the Voltarin was really just more wishful thinking and ignoring the pain by blocking it with a drug. I thought of my poor shin in there still hurting the same but not able to communicate it to me because I wasn’t listening. So I decided to listen. Plus the voltarin has run out. What I heard was: don’t go so fast all the time. And, just walk so soft and maybe slow that you can actually feel the living country beneath your feet. And, sometimes the solitude you would like is to be found at the back of the pack not up front. And, hey girl, be graceful about being slowed down by something out of your control, because it’s going to happen more and more as the years pass. Learn now that it can be a blessing in its own way. So up today’s mountain we go, slowly, slowly, leaning on my two sticks and watching and listening.
L and I saw a young deer pottering through the forest oblivious to out held-breath wide-eyed happy faces, its white tail bobbing as it disappeared into the bracken. The path is just stunningly lovely: yellow and ochre and brown oak leaves carpeting underfoot and acorns crunching. They are so fat they’re almost spherical. There is grey slate and rainbow slate and cloaks of frost over the trees and bushes. After a couple of days of mad photographing I’m having a break today. Ooh, it’s hard at first! I’m still composing shots in my head and can’t help but think that this one will be the most beautiful of all. But it makes me stop and look, to drink in colour and vistas. Let that be enough. There is quiet and birdsong. A loo with a view.
There was a black and white tiny cat lying in a pool of sunshine on a wall just inside the border of Galicia which we passed a couple of hours into today’s walk. She was so friendly and rubbing and purring and licking our hands. I thought draped around the neck she would be a good addition to the winter warm clothes. I asked a farmer walking by for our first words in Gallego, the dialect spoken here, which is sort of midway between Castellano and Portuguese. Buon camiño! He said.
Standing under one of giant chestnut trees here is like being inside a room of stained glass windows shining in yellow, gold, chartreuse, caramel and ochre. The sheltering rich presence of these trees cannot be described. Come walk this way, and come in the Autumn!
Galicia’s Celtic origins are palpable today as we pass through small pueblos. Bell towers have spiral carvings and church yards are planted with Rowan trees, the people have a very different look as well: light eyes, blue and grey, and fair skin.
It is so wonderful to be here in Galicia. The rural life here that grows in and around and is entwined with the fig trees and hand-cut slate rooves and mossy steps and gardens and goats and the chestnut trees that year in and year out provide a wild harvest for the people… it is real and vital and humble and touches me deeply in a warm greeting on a muddy street or a handful of chestnuts offered or a freezing drink from a fountain. I’m not tooo sentimental about it. Just let me walk with it for now.