I went outside on Thursday morning before the sun was up, and what struck me most was how quiet it was. It felt like an autumn morning in the UK: chilly, with a slight blur to the air. In the UK, that would have been from bonfires; here, of course, it was from wildfire smoke.

The helicopters started again soon after 8am, and a walk to the village showed that all was not over: the polideportivo was ‘occupied’ by soldiers and firemen, and the fire was still the main topic of conversation everywhere.

firetrucks & military vehicles at the sports centre
firetrucks & military vehicles at the sports centre

Most people were already saying all was well, but one of the militares – a nice young man who saluted me and called me señora– told me that although they were confident all would be well, there were still problems, not only up by the mountain pass in the north, but also much closer to home. I appreciated the fact that he appeared not to be lying.

Now, two days later, it all seems to be under control. The soldiers have left the village, and I haven’t heard a single aircraft yet this morning. No doubt people are still working to make sure the fire doesn’t reappear, but there’s no smoke, and the focus is on getting back to normal.

When I was thinking about how quiet it was on Thursday morning, I realised that the Spanish don’t really have a word for ‘quiet’. Quieto refers to non movement, not lack of noise. There’s silencioso, but that seems too extreme. And poco ruidoso comes at it from the assumption that noise is the norm.

Today, though, I can use the word tranquilo, as, at least here in the village, calm has been restored.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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