Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lesson Absorption is Gradual

Hello, everyone.

I am coming to the conclusion that the Pilgrimage to Compostela doesn't really end when you get on the plane to go home. (Even if you don't have to try again to get out of Spain!)

I find myself trying to process it by, for example, making quilt squares with scallop shells on them.

The first draft of the scallop applique, with color mates. A second draft has been pieced, but not appliqued. I intend to make photos of the assembly of that version, as the angles problem has been worked out now.

(Yes, the scallop square is necessarily applique. I don't even want to think about how tricky it would be to piece that many odd and curved seams. The square would probably outright refuse to lie flat at the end of it, too.)

And trying to make a beading pattern of a scallop shell--the peyote stitch one I started with is presently being "unwoven" back to where I should have bent lines more--but it's a learning process.

Early pic of the beaded scallop picture, right about when I think the design went all wonky. On sheet in background, the pencil sketches for Cross of Santiago, the yellow waymarker arrow, and the scallop shell.

This morning I am thinking that I should just toss over the weaving in progress and start again. Since there are three different threads in it, and at some point one finds it impossible to continue unstringing the threads because of the add-ins and the finishing-offs.

We learned to go with the flow a lot more than once would have been possible. It started on the very first day, when we arrived in Biarritz. There had been a plan for that day--a plan that had involved a lot of looking on the web and considering maps and so on--that involved staying the night in Bayonne, then moving the 20 miles down the way to St. Jean, then the following day (decompressed from plane travel) beginning to walk. This all went by the wayside when we encountered a lady pilgrim from Scotland, who suggested we share a cab to St. Jean. And we did.

I think the pony in St. Jean knew more about what I was doing than I did.

Now I look back and consider what I heard about the weather that hit on the day we would have been starting to walk, and I'm grateful that the plan went by the wayside. Because on May 19 the weather was pretty good. Give or take an evil headwind. Way better than the rainstorms and snow and much stronger winds that hit the next two days, which I heard about from other pilgrims. (I haven't been talking much about the other pilgrims we met on the trail. That's because I don't feel really comfortable spilling whatever they told me, and I overheard, and I guessed without any evidence, without any permission from them nor any expectation that there would be a blog post in the future. It just feels too much like a peeping tom putting up a videocam next to somebody's fence aimed at their uncurtained bathroom window.) On May 20, I heard, the snow was so bad that people were calling cabs to drive up the mountain and get them--one man said that he saw a long string of headlights through the storm, collecting stranded pilgrims to carry them down to start over again. He told of his start when we met him in Santo Domingo de Calzada--he'd decided that he'd freeze to death before a cab could come to him, and kept going. I could not have done that day on that unsheltered trail up the mountside.

I am firmly of the belief that when one goes on pilgrimage, God watches. And now I see that the evidence of His guiding hand was there even on our very first day in France. I look back over the walk and see many more things like that than I realized at the time, too. Directions--unsought--from strangers, more than once. Lodging when we couldn't find it. Encouragement from a passing pilgrim. Too many times to count, really.

Before I close this post, a feet picture set:

They look a lot better two months after returning than they did in Pamplona, don't they? (I will let you go back to that post if you want to see something really scary.) The purple toes are coming right along, the athlete's foot is gone, the blisters are gone. So, if you go and find yourself covered in blisters early on, just go to the pharmacy and get the bandages and use the antiseptic--hand sanitizer if that's what you have on you--every day and change bandages a lot. Wear your shower sandals in the evening so the feet will air out a lot.

Final note on feet: life is not fair. My sweetie only had one blister the entire 500 miles. But he had a new plantar fasciitis develop--the second one--which bothered him a lot. And the Roman roads with their pokey rocks were very hard for him--made his feet more sensitive to other pokey rocks later on. Ibuprofen gel, yes! Ibuprofen at bedtime, yes! And foot rubs.

I encourage anyone reading to make the pilgrimage. And accept that once you do, it will take root inside you.

We are now reading Mr. Kelly's Kindle book about the Via de la Plata, and Mr. Brierly's book about the Camino Portuges. Who can know whether we will be blessed to make another pilgrimage in the future? Or even to repeat the Camino Frances, the route we walked this summer?