Christmas thoughts from The Garden
The wood burner crackles with life after damp mornings of downpour or mist, but still no hard frost as, overall, the weeks and days running up to Christmas have been in contrast to the economic storm embroiling the continent. I continue to track Jupiter at night and ponder on Voyager, the space probe that is now 17,391,000,000km away and on the point of leaving our little solar system. Closer to home it is a metre to the kettle that’s coming to the boil behind me, a kilometre to the village, 100 kilometres to Barcelona and 1300 kilometres to my fading Dad. Distance; a measure between two points; an incalculable feeling that can make heart and mind pound back and forth along the boundaries of reason. The night sky here in the Priorat mountains, as in some quarters of England where one is spared the gross urban addiction to blinding electric light, is hugely relevant, numbingly complex, bewitching beautiful and no help in the matter of life. Or maybe it is. Regardless of creed or continent I wonder how many of the 7 billion inhabitants of this tiny planet look at Jupiter and the Milky Way at some point during their journey and strive to see themselves, the human condition and our global obsessions in the context of an (as yet, maybe never) unfathomable universe. Maybe it is the consequence of dwelling so remotely, where, like the countless dwellers on the ledge, I float in space every clear night that I go to check on the horses before bedtime; of approaching a milestone of loss. Yes, I am feeling that distance from my father. I will be with him by the time you are reading this and will, no doubt, have walked the cliff-top coastal meadows of my Sheringham childhood. There, among the echoes, I will grapple with life choices, not least the troubling consequence of distancing myself and family from him for all but spasmodic weeks and days during the last 11 years. He has always professed total understanding and given unquestioning support. But even so. Whatever emotions flood, I will not be able to resist standing on what locals call The Bump (a clifftop hill, the residue of the ice age) and searching the planets and stars. Strangely, it is always a great comfort.
Which begs this question for all governments: Can we turn out some lights please? It would save a significant amount of Pounds and Euros if all that matters is economics, and it may help people come to terms with the dark.
A culinary footnote. Two women have taken over a local restaurant. Not a good time to sally forth in business. Trade has not been brisk, so we decided to offer some support. Maggie and I try and go for a lunch once a month, spreading our custom among the local hostelries where you can get three courses and drinks for circa €12 a head. We were the only people dining, but what the heck, it all seemed satisfactory .... until the dessert. I was particular excited by the option of a rice pudding sprinkled with cinnamon. Two things rapidly became apparent. Clearly no one in the kitchen was capable of sprinkling, as not one grain of rice was visible through the thick layer of brown powder. Secondly, the same individual couldn’t tell the difference between cinnamon and paprika. You have to chuckle. Keep well - and Happy Christmas thoughts and best wishes to everyone out there from us all at Mother's Garden.