Yesterday was a fairly typical Asturian Diary day, probably best described as a straddling of centuries (not as painful as it sounds). It started, as is newly customary, with an early morning walk to the bus stop where Jack boards his taxi to school.
Eager to leech some benefit out of being out and about at this
god-forsaken early hour I grabbed my scythe and headed for the fields to do battle with the mattoral (undergrowth) while the cool made it bearable. All very last century but I have to say that (even with my talentless application of it) the scythe is a very effective tool and far more pleasant to use than heavy, noisy machinery.
After a couple of hours of satisfying physical work I dragged my head back to the twenty first century and went inside to do some work online. Before I knew it (certainly well before I’d
been arsed to had the chance to clear the breakfast things away) it was time to go pick Jack up.
What should be a ten minute walk home invariably becomes a half hour epic that occasionally stretches into an entire evening. There are blackberries to be picked and eaten and even some grapes outside an abandoned house. There are horses to be talked to. Most of all there are conspiracies to be made. Jack and his buddy spend a large portion of the walk whispering in each other’s ear and making plans to avoid separation at all costs.
Yesterday his friend was heading off down the fields with his father to collect walnuts. So that was our evening planned for us then. The two boys set off down the track swinging their arms determinedly, both wearing straw hats that A’s granny gave them to protect their little heads from the unseasonably strong sun. I momentarily mused on the possibility of changing Jack’s name to Huck but then shook myself back to reality and the present.
We had many fields and orchards to cross before reaching the plantation of young walnut trees. I was conscious of both the distance and the downhill incline as I knew that (as yet) I am no redundant observer in Jack’s adventures – my part would be played later when tiredness would finally be acknowledged and Mum would get to carry the tiny adventurer all the way home for supper, bath and bed.
But first there were walnuts to be collected. In true Asturian tradition the tool for the job was that finest of things, a really long stick. The stick, in its various forms is ubiquitous here. You will never drive past an Asturian walking on a country road who is not in possession of at least one stick. Sights such as tiny, hunched old ladies dragging half a tree trunk behind them are not uncommon. My neighbours’ sage advice to me has been never to waste a walk – you will always pass bits of wood that can be collected for later use, either as kindling or stakes or perhaps for fending off jabali (wild boar). (I may have made that last one up.)
So naturally we had the perfect stick for this particular job already in our possession. A gentle thwacking of the branches encouraged the walnuts to the ground, where we could collect them before other critters got to them first.
With our bags filled it was time for home and, sure enough, Mum got to do a good cardio workout whilst carrying an extra 15 kilos. Who needs the gym, eh?