When I went out this morning to hang up laundry in the communal garden, the grass was still frozen. Yet, the sun was already pulling humidity from the ground, creating a sense of walking on a fine layer of mist.
There is such a sacred peace about at this hour. The workers have left their homes, the dogs have completed their predawn concert and the donkey has stopped whining and won’t start again until after dusk, when the church bells chime eight.
Of course one can hear the town nearby, but since this is Samana Blanca, the winter holiday for Spaniards, it is as if the whole town, or at least our neighbourhood has decided to sleep in, to delay chores and to slam doors with less vigor than normal.
I look out at the fields behind the garden, unfolding with beautiful unpredictable order, grasslands, olive groves and windy roads. Small birds whose name I still don’t know and whose tune I still cannot recognize are twittering and chatting in the flowering bushes. An old man sits curled up like a cat against a sunny wall, shelling nuts, one by one without haste. The rusty-coloured foal on the farm at the end of the street is running lonesome circles around the yard. Teenage angst? He has grown much since the boy who tends to him last brought him up to the fountain by the Arab wall to drink, following suit of other horses for centuries past.
I am overwhelmed by gratitude and amazement that we are simply here. Who would have known, even a year ago? I cannot even start to list the daily blessings of our life here. And today, for this day, I take all this beauty, this warmth and this tremendous peace and send it north to my family who today, God, Allah and ice-free roads – willing, are meeting with my aunt and uncle in Lillehammer. This is an Andalucian hug to them all.