Friday, November 30, 2007

Santiago de Compistella

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Since I was six years old until I was sixteen, I spent my summer
holidays with my Grandmother on the family farm. As soon as I arrived
there, I removed my socks and shoes and walked barefoot for the whole
summer. It took about two weeks before I could cross the gravel road to
visit my friend Johnnie without any discomfort. I knew then the feel of
cool mud between my toes on a hot summers day, the dewy grass of the
morning on my trip to the chicken coop to fetch my breakfast, The gross feeling of fresh
cow pies that I neglected to see all too often, The warm Earth of the
garden that we raided for tomatoes, cucumbers and young peas and what
it felt like to step on a garter snake in the long grass. Johnnie and I
ran the fields and forests on our land the whole summer. We hunted with
sling shots, bows and arrows and once with a 22 rifle that I smuggled
out of the house. It was only the one time because on my return I was
whipped on the arse with a red willow switch by my loving 90 pound
Grandmother. Those two months every summer for ten years was my Tom Sawyer

I have always liked to walk. In the city I had a friend named Brian who also liked to walk and talk about our dysfunctional family life, we didn't know it was dysfunctional
then, we thought it was normal. We walked everywhere. Whenever we got an
allowance or with whatever money we could earn collecting pop bottles, we
would walk to the movie theatres downtown because they offered two
feature films and more cartoons then the neighborhood theatres. We also walked to save our bus fare so
we could buy candied popcorn...licorice flavor. I don't know how far it
was but it took us over an hour and a half to walk there and the same
coming back. We used to get scolded for being too late, especially when
we hid ourselves in the theatre so we could see them twice. We were
proficient little liars and managed to convince our parents that one of
us lost our money and the other walked home with him so he wouldn't be
alone. We never got tired. We talked and walked and walked and talked
and the the thing that I remember now is that we never had to fear, no
matter what time, no matter where we walked. There was one time however
when we were chased by a group of guys when we were in our early teens
because we were chatting up some girls in a rival neighborhood but we
ran like the wind and laughed like fools.

I have never
owned a car even to this day, I have a drivers license mostly for
identification. My wife and children own cars, except for one daughter
who like me prefers public transportation. I love to observe people and
I am a shameless eavesdropper. It never dawned on me until recently
that this is a rich vein to tap when trying to come up with ideas for
stories. It was from my Daughter Z, who made the pilgrimage herself a few
years back that I got the idea, no it's much more then an idea, it's
one of the things that I must do before I die. It is my desire to
walk the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela , across Northern Spain. To walk across the mountains and valleys of Spain's provinces. Across streams and through the trees under the majesty of the Milky Way. This is my desire. Not thinking about anything except putting one foot in front of the other with no reason other then a walking meditation.
Pilgrims used walk it out of penance for past sins. Nowadays they walk
through villages that have existed since the middle ages, stay in
Romanesque Churches and monasteries along the way. Thousands walk it
every year. Pilgrims from all over the globe come to walk all or part
of the 600 mile pilgrimage to Santiago. They come out of curiosity, for
the challenge, they come in search of their Spiritual selves. Something
magical will happen to you if you walk across Spain underneath the
Milky way. You cannot help but be affected by it and one can only hope
that it would make me conscious of deeper realities. I feel I must take
it for this reason, in search of that last piece of the puzzle, in
search of that one person or event that will reveal it all.

People always turn up when they are expected...Paulo Coehlo

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Jo November 30, 2007 at 3:51 PM  

This is a gorgeous post. My brother wants to do Santiago de Compostela too.....not me, I blister going 10 yards, though I hear you on how wonderful it would be.

UL,  November 30, 2007 at 9:44 PM  

Ah walking bare feet is what I have done most of my childhood years, foot-wear at home is very rare still... loved the way you described the walk, I dont own a vehicle either, though I do drive as it's impossible to get anywhere from my present location, public transportation is a joke in this part of my world...I hope you get to take that walk in Spain, loved the spiritual association.

Thank you,

Awareness December 1, 2007 at 6:57 AM  

what an insightful piece. It needs to be read aloud like a monologue because it seems to capture different points in one's journey.....a walk that is never quite finished, like a pilgrim's walk.

I love it.....

ps. I read it aloud.... the stream of consciousness feel to it invited me to.

ps again...I agree with Paul Coehlo. People do turn up when they are expected....though I think sometimes it feels surprising at first to see them. But there is a sense of destiny beyond ourselves which guides the people we need to us.

gautami tripathy,  December 1, 2007 at 9:05 AM  

I seldom wear shoes at home. My trademark is to go barefeet. You post covers various aspect of walking. Very thoughtful.


paisley December 1, 2007 at 10:55 AM  

i loved the lovely reminiscent walk thru your childhood......

Rob Kistner December 1, 2007 at 11:41 AM  

Wow - 600 miles... such dedication!

Josie Two Shoes December 1, 2007 at 4:23 PM  

Another beautiful post walking us thru different glimpses of your life and spiritual journey, Webster. I do indeed hope you get the opportunity to walk the pilgrimage and blog it!

Crafty Green Poet December 2, 2007 at 6:41 AM  

Excellent post, I love walking barefoot through grass or sand - not so much on pavements or gravel! I totally agree with you that public transport or walking mean that you can eavesdrop and find inspiration for writing. I've never driven a car either.

tumblewords December 2, 2007 at 1:08 PM  

I still walk with bare feet as often as possible - enjoyed reading your post!

mks December 2, 2007 at 6:15 PM  

Very well written and wondeful post. I love walking in barefeet in the summer time and I love toasting my toes in a warm pair of socks when the temperature dips in the winter.

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homeinkabul December 3, 2007 at 3:00 PM  

luscious, vivid writing - thanks for sharing. I'm bookmarking your blog!

La Page Française December 4, 2007 at 12:43 PM  

A very evocative post, I really felt like I was there walking barefoot on a summer morning through the dewy grass and stepping on garter snakes. It has been a dream of mine to walk the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela, I hope to do it one day