It’s winter

And it’s beautiful. Close to my home is a large park. Today as I walked through to go to the Metro I noticed that the pond was starting to freeze over. The reflection of the few leaves left on the trees will soon disappear but the sky was still lovely. After a dark and dreary day, the clouds lightened up and colour from the coming sunset softened the mood. The Canada geese have left and the fat squirrels are almost manic in their search for food for winter. I confess to hating squirrels, a hold-over from my gardening days when they were my mortal enemies.

In Angrignon Park

I went to my volunteer English conversation class today. I had a chance to walk through a city neighbourhood where our family used to live. In fact, from my bedroom window my husband and I could see the bell tower rising over our flat. This church is one of a couple of Byzantine revivals built in the early twentieth century. It’s a magnificent building. The cold air made me take notice of my surroundings as I walked after class to get myCovid booster shot. I had my flu shot last week so this pincushion is ready for the onslaught of winter. Bring it on!

Against a winter sky

Dread November

The full moon

I saw a wonderful quote -where else, on Facebook – that reminded us that photos of the moon, or sunsets or dawns never really capture the beauty of these wonders. It went on to tell us that we should remember this when we look at old pictures of ourselves and “ hate “ them. So, we are more beautiful and transcendent and inspiring than those awkward snaps. Consoling, isn’t it?

I had hoped to send a picture of the full moon from my balcony to a site called “ view from my window” but really! Compared to some of the splendour or cosiness or lush beauty S ome people look at, mine is very banal. I know, I know, practice thankfulness. Most of the time I do and I really feel it….but…. dark at 4 pm, snow yesterday and freezing rain today’

Yes, rambling! So here is a beautiful image down by the river just to cheer myself up

Return to “ normal”

After weeks and weeks of walking an average of 20 kilometres a day I suppose it is “normal” to feel restless. There are things I must do. I have to shop for food, take my jacket to the cleaners, take care of my plants before snow comes. To be fair I am surrounded by beauty here just as I was in Spain

In the park around the corner

The trouble is I know this place too well. Also, I can get away with just sitting on my couch. I don’t have to worry about where I’ll sleep.

When I walk on the street or sit in the Metro I want to say “ good morning” to people as I did for so many weeks. They’d think I was mad. Isn’t it more mad to sit in a Metro car where every single person is hunched over his or her phone. Not one head was raised. How surprised that teenaged boy would have been if I had followed my impulse and took him by the scruff of the neck and and yelled “ wake up, kid! Your life is ticking away. Go and do one thing that has nothing to do with a screen!”

None of my business, right? Run the vacuum, make a cake for the kids, get the gas fire sorted. No more walking for now. Be “ normal”.Thank heaven for those kids who will be here tomorrow and will expect tacos. Get on it Granny!

At the River

OK it’s official

I have post Camino blues. Negotiating the red tape and Covid details of getting into Canada was distracting but, let’s face it, shopping for food and going through the mail is boring. My body misses the long routine of walking, walking, climbing up slopes, stopping to rest or drink cafe con leche.

The far horizon, the wind, the smell of things cannot be found nearby

I have no initiative to go out, to write, to cook. The weather was brilliant today but…well, as the Stoics would say, “ If a thing can be endured, endure it”. Funny, during the last few days in Europe, I was so anxious to come home and yet, there is something flat about being here.

Today is all saints day. Tomorrow I will climb up the mountain and visit my mother’s grave. I think that will fulfill the need to walk a long way and the need to connect with this place again.

One of her favorite flowers

Last Sleep

I did my Covid test today. Well within the 72 hrs by my calculations. Now fingers crossed for a negative result! I feel fine and tramp around the city for hours. I must say I have never blown my nose so much since I walked into Galicia! People say allergies or the very damp climate. Let us hope so.

Today I visited the museum of the cathedral . Good heavens! I could hear my Methodist grandmother‘S voice, “It’s a long way from Bethlehem”! Simplicity and poverty were not much in evidence. The amount of gold,silver and ( very interesting to me) tapestry and vestments on display was astounding.

The metal cape of the statue of St James

Because of Covid people are no longer allowed to climb up behind the altar and embrace the statue of the saint as was the custom. This is the cloak he wore to protect the statue from wearing away. I am very fond of opals and so admired the three up under the collar. I was eavesdropping on a guide who said people used to steal some jewels and swallow them to avoid detection. Then they would “ retrieve them somehow” ….so tactful! Anyway the whole place was dripping with gold, silver and beautiful paintings.

This nativity scene appealed to me

Seeing everything involved a lot of climbing up and down the most uneven and winding stairs. I hung onto the substantial railings which were always just a little too short so that the last bits involved a sort of “ leap of faith”. I have managed to survive unscathed and thought it would be a shame to spoil my record.

A banner from the Battle of Lepanto!

A modern note that somehow cheered me up was a loud demonstration in Cathedral Square in support of the rights of bus drivers going to the airport. My firm pro-workers’ rights position was tinged with a little worry in case I should not be able to get to that destination myself tomorrow. However, I must take the tough with the smooth not only on Camino pathways it seems. I am well and truly ready to come home and be with all my darlings for the winter. How wonderful it will be to sleep in my own bed again!

Reward for going to early liturgy

And away we go..,,

Aaand away we go!

I was rewarded for going to early liturgy this morning by the thrilling sight of the famous botafumiero being swung to and fro in the cathedral. This huge incense burner used to fumigate the pilgrims in the Middle Ages. I’ve never heard of it being used anywhere else. I had a hint something was in the works when I saw an ornately dressed man taking the collection. This ritual is usually only done on holidays. November 1 was scheduled for the next “swinging moment” as it will be All Souls Day. However, it seems groups of pilgrims can sponsor a botafumiero and that’s what happened today. How lucky am I . I am not a very good video person so I did not get the full effect with the organ crashing away.

The rest of the day was a bit more mundane. I got my Covid test set up and trust it will be within Canada’s 72 hour limit.

I went to a wonderful park too and decided I get too overwhelmed with cities no matter how astonishing they are.

A different perspective on the cathedral

Finally I must confess that I rode on one of those little tourist trains that concentrated a lot on university buildings. I had no idea the university here was so prestigious. Tomorrow I think I will go to the natural history museum since I’ve already seen the university library where I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

OK go away everyone and get me a nice easy chair

At the sea , at the sky, at the rocks

Sitting at the end…the beginning of the world

When I came into the Cathedral square on Sunday afternoon I was wet and cold. The sky was grey. The baroque roof line of the cathedral looked like an unfamiliar jumble to me. My Camino was over yet all I wanted to do was get into a warm shower and put on dry clothes. To ad insult to injury I got diverted by some traffic divisors (shades of Montreal) and came in through an alternate entry, completely missing the famous bagpiper.

Yesterday made up for that however. My friend, Chris welcomed me at the albergue and asked if I would like to come with her the next day on a bus tour to the coast. Now, some stalwarts walk another three days but we were both quite ready to put ourselves in the hands of a commercial tour guide and see the sights in comfort.

We stopped at this pretty village
The sky kept changing with new beauty from moment to moment
The sun came out for Finisterre
We stopped here, where a waterfall tumbled into the sea

But for me the wonder of the day was Muxia where ancient Celtic legends merge with stories of St. James. The turquoise underplay of waves, the sound of surf, the huge rocks, many with local beliefs of healing properties all made me want to stay. At last I felt the satisfaction of having walked day after day to reach my goal. I remembered the kindness and fellowship of fellow pilgrims and looked far out to the horizon, realizing that I could keep this wonder with me forever,

Many faces from along the Camino

I’ll walk in again!

The day started well enough walking in pitch dark led by a Spanish family whose dad had a head lantern. He led the way and they could have been going to Santiago or New York for all I knew or cared as we stumbled through the dark wood. Dawn came of course as it does

One of the high points of the day

It soon began to rain off and on and I was pleased to have decided to carry the dreaded poncho.

As the different routes converged more and more pilgrims crowded the roads

It was gratifying to see the numbers on the milestones go down but…. The fog and rain were so thick that it was impossible to see the famous sight of the cathedral from the hill of Monte de Gonzo.

Anyway I soldiered on and arrived around the back of the cathedral instead of making the traditional descent accompanied by the bagpiper. Really there was a lot of roadwork going on and only Google maps allowed me to stumble onto my albergue where ( yay!) my friend was already ensconced.

I have resolved to do the whole thing over again tomorrow so I can get the full emotional “ high” . Well, I admit to a tear in the eye when I finally found the piper.

Tomorrow Santiago?

If all goes well I will walk 20 km into Santiago tomorrow. All during this walk, pilgrimage, endeavour, hike, I have never said I was going to Santiago. I know that stuff happens. Ankles get twisted, passports get lost, pilgrims get sick or discouraged. I took it one or two days at a time. I walked with wonderful people, banal people, mentally disturbed people, lovable people, boring people, people I could trust and want to stay friends. And I walked a lot by myself and with myself.

Here are some things I saw today

Starting off
Can you see the yellow inside? There really is corn in there
A friend came to say hello
Well, not impossible!