Life’s Not Just Blossoms and Busty Beer Taps

This morning was a very flowery walk, on this bright Sunday right at midsummer. The Solstice is called Sommerwende in German–summer’s hinge, summer’s turning point. in a tiny village I ran into a personal Gabriel angel carrying lilies.

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As I’m sitting here at this very moment church bells are ringing madly. Congregants are carrying an effigy of the Virgin into the hills to a shrine, some combination of Solstice with the Virgin. The Catholic Church always covers all its bases.

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Flowers were strewn in the path of the effigy. I think that’s what I saw in another village I walked through today, the sidewalk blossoming with wildflowers for a block or so. The trailside flowers are spectacular too. See why I said it was a flowery day?

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The bells just stopped… they literally pounded the heck out of my ears for a half an hour. There’s no way to miss that it’s midsummer. I started out in the church to see it, but I felt like a voyeur. This celebration is for the village, not for me. The ancient bells turn 360 degrees, mounted on a huge wooden top that rotates on an axis. Centrifugal force keeps them turning. They have not stopped after all. The turn of the season is worth a little noise.
I was so lucky to stop in this village to witness this. I got a lovely bed in its own cubicle, with a view out the French doors. This hotel is built in an old monastery and the owner is a pilgrim himself and built in some luxury pilgrim lodging.

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I am walking much too slowly to do the entire Camino in just six weeks, what with flowers and paintings and magic soup and monasteries. I am about twice as slow as the guidebook. I’ll be going on to Galicia to finish up and get my Compostela. Galicia is Celtic and believes in its witches. The main witch of Galicia is made into beer taps. She’s very inspiring, and whispered to me that it was okay to skip ahead.

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It’s this kind of breezy day, with high horsetail cirrus clouds all prancing toward the west, in the direction of the Camino.
Your slow Camino wanderer, Suzanne

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Where a pilgrim begins

I started this pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela last year in September– in my mind. They say that the pilgrim way begins right from your front door. The post below was written in September 2013 when I first decided to start. In the meantime, I have bread dipped in Spanish olive oil, and walk among the twisted oaks of Spring Lake. Join me as I walk, write, sketch, and wander in the land of bull, oak, red wine, relics, grails, and pilgrims. Suzanne

Toward Compostela: A Pilgrim on the Starry Way

I called my niece Rachel Welsh, who is, conveniently enough, a scholar of the Middle Ages, to ask her advice on this crazed idea I had to walk the length of the Camino de Santiago.  She said, “You’ve already started your pilgrimage.”

My front steps, a winding path through an arch towards the sky. My front steps, a winding path through an arch towards the sky.

In the Middle Ages, you started from your own front door, or perhaps from the steps of your local cathedral.  Rich or poor, doing penance for sins or seeking your fortune, man, woman or child– you started where you are.  And so here is my own front door on this bright September day in Northern California, the wind whipping the rain clouds and the first reluctant leaves along the pavement. A little glitch of the light entered— a protective travel spirit?  It is the first day of fall. Or this might be the real start, the chair…

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