Summer softness and lessons learned

By Martin Kirby

September 12. The children returned to Latin school this week after three months of ease, and we try to re-adjust. Not easy. Summer peace and heat linger. It is still 80+ degrees in the shade, almost still enough to hear the beat of the crimson dragonflies’ wings. Two weeks ago the echoes of fading fiestas had been drowned out by the quiet of contentment, of slow-blinks, gentle greetings and steady hearts as the holiday gently came to a stop. Now, in the melee of school runs with its pinch of reluctant urgency, I find myself reflecting on summer lessons learned. In August the pond weed in the old wash pool bloomed with a few tiny cream flowers - blooms as gentle in hue as the sensibly sparse street lights of the mountain villages that neither blind the night nor squander. Better. Such softness is like a dream. You can make out quite enough without the haste of detail, and around every corner in the immeasurable three hours either side of an August midnight you will find young and old have pulled chairs, tables and pushchairs into the middle of narrow streets to, well, be. Some do more. An hour inland, at the end of a winding journey when we encountered as many foxes as we did other souls, the village of Cabaces pulsed gently with these promises. It is one of the more remote of communities, yet no less alive than any other huddle of homes in this mosaic of ridges and valleys, forests, vineyards and groves. It was nearing 11pm. We were taking Ella, who had just finished a dance rehearsal, and her friend Celia to watch the latest round of the summer inter-village five-a-side soccer tournament. Yes, 11pm. They had kicked off at 7pm with an estimated finish time of 4am. This was the fifth tournament, and high above the nest of soft lights, just above the village pool, more than a hundred people looked down on teenagers tearing back and forth after the ball with – all being considered - startling energy and skill. Well, this is Barca FC territory after all. Boys dream. Some believe. It is more than sport. One of her classmates has just signed for premier league team Osasuna. Ella has been gliding these summer mountains better than the eagles because, I sense well enough, there is something immeasurable about this time for her, of growing up amid a loving group of friends in a treasure trove of simplicities. Meanwhile I, her chauffeur, once fully awake with the assistance of cold water, am content to weave slowly along the lanes in the company of a cheese moon and the endless heaven, while hoping for the sparkle of animal eyes. Time aplenty to reflect on how, as parents taking our young children to live a radically different life, we have fundamentally changed their world.....or have we?


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