I moved back to the UK some years ago, but the time spent in Spain, and in particular, the years spent en el pueblo, still influence my thoughts. Today, for example is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a fact I would never have paid any attention to before living in a Catholic country, but which today has prompted me to feel nostalgic.
When we signed the papers on the house in the village it was early autumn, although we continued to dither between Madrid and the country for quite a while after that. So we were still not really on top of the intricacies of rural life as that first year wound down towards las fiestas de navidad. Continue reading “maculate”
The tomato plants I put in pots rather later than intended this year seem to be growing reasonably well. They are tall and leafy, although bushier than they should be, as I missed a few side shoots.
We don’t have a lot of space and, as I said, it was a bit late before I got my act together to buy seedlings, so there are only three of them: one Gardener’s Delight and two others, which the ironmongress couldn’t remember the names of. I reckoned we could just call them Tom I and Tom II, as they weren’t likely to answer anyway. Continue reading “something to look forward to”
We are now officially well into the Year of the Pig. And, frankly, if the Year of the Dog was a bitch, this year has already been a pig of a year.
Back when I lived in Spain, pigs loomed large in my life. So here I’m just going to gather together some old blog posts that have featured pigs and pig products, boars and other related issues, and also re-post a few relevant images, starting with this little pig who went to market and half startled the life out of me as he nestled in among the reconstituted crab sticks. Continue reading “year of the pig”
Despite the glorious flowers still to be found in window boxes and tubs around the town, summer is officially over: the days have been getting shorter and Thursday was the Autumn Equinox.
I think all the local churches have either had their harvest festival or have it scheduled for tomorrow and the thought of harvest has reminded me once more of Spain. We didn’t pay much attention to the garden but even untended trees produce blossom and fruit as the year turns. Continue reading “autumn memories”
The Ham Museum is a shrine
to swine: crimson haunches hang
in the swelter of strip lights; fat leaks
dripping into plastic cones while
an unobtrusive bustle of barstaff
serve the gathered worshippers.
With ritual gesturing, slim-bladed
knives skim iridescent curves.
Glasses are raised in veneration
of marbled flesh, and wafers
of translucent succulence dissolve
as devotees discuss the mysteries
of the world.
The (draft) poem is loosely based on a chain of bars in Spain, while the pig in the picture was photographed some time last year sitting on a table outside an English restaurant/wine bar/pub… Actually, I’m not sure what the Almanack should be classed as, but it’s worth a visit if you are in the area. It caters for a rather wider range of tastes than does the Museo del Jamón.
As I’ve said before on the blog (of pigs and poetry), I’ve had in mind for years now to write a poem about la matanza, but have never actually witnessed a pig slaughter. I’d just about psyched myself up to do so this year, but when the time came, the neighbour and his helpers only hobbled the pigs with ropes and then drove them away squealing.
Even this tile – given me recently by a fellow poet who hoped, I think, that it would inspire me to finish the piece I took in to the writers’ group for commentary back in December – isn’t a lot of help as it doesn’t seem to show the actual killing.
I was reminded of the fact I was prepared to witness a slaughter in order to be able to write about it when I was reading during my coffee break this morning. Continue reading “seeing for yourself”
I took a new poem-in-progress into the writers’ group on Tuesday. Its title is La Matanza – the Spanish word for slaughter or massacre.
It’s a piece that I’ve been intending to write ever since we bought the house in the village and were told the guy couldn’t come to prune the trees on the long December puente as he’d be busy with la matanza.
In most parts of Spain, a cada cerdo le llega su San Martín – pigs get what’s coming to them on November 11th – but it seems that in our village it’s more traditional for the pig slaughter to take place on the feast of la Inmaculada.
That juxtaposition of the innocence and virginal white of the immaculate conception with the sheer red-blooded traditional country ritual of pig slaughter seems to be crying out for a poem to be written. Continue reading “of pigs and poetry”