The next morning we set off down the same rutted farm track lined with the same wild flowers which were being tossed about by the same, though slightly gentler, wind. Everything looked and felt the same but… colours appeared a little bit richer and with each step our feet felt like they were being absorbed into the earth. Every once in a while I could swear I heard spark of laughter or a playground shriek but there were no children no people anywhere near us, only the dancing flowers. The sense of a question drifted back into my mind and I had to laugh. It reminded me of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where the answer to the question about life, the universe and everything was very straight forward but the vexing point was the question. What was the question? Indeed, what was the mystery of the crossroad and the olive tree? These thoughts wrapped and folded around each other in my mind as we continued to walk towards Figures.
As we approached the town the atmosphere changed. It became harder, less whimsical, the earth firmed up and no longer accepted our feet. They simply scuffed along atop the stoney ground. It was as if near the farm the barriers between the dimensions we understand, time and space, and those we don’t were fractured and fissured, perhaps more from neglect – as if it didn’t matter, but the closer we got to town the more it felt like solid gates had come down. We were on the earth but no longer a part of it.
Nevertheless we had some business to do so we wandered around town, picked up some cash, did a bit of basic organisation and got lost in the mundane affairs of living. We circumnavigated the Dali museum not feeling the need to enter and loitered in squares and narrow alleys as the shops slowly opened throughout the morning. Around lunch time we went off piste and found a cafe bursting with locals. Our ignorance of Catalan left us with nothing but the tried and true method of selection by pointing and were delighted as each dish came out nothing like we expected but delicious nonetheless. Afterwards we drifted aimlessly and after a while found a lovely park with whispering pines but not a whisper came from them. Even in the wind they were silent. We walked back to the farm on hard ground.
For the next few days we puttered around the farm talking to and playing with the chickens. They were lousy at cards and, being somewhat monosyllabic, not much for conversation. We cracked open the study materials we’d brought with us. I had a book on writing and a book written by a friend of mine that I’d promised to read – now seemed the time. Coincidentally (?) the books seemed to share a common theme. Art does not require genius – just hard work, dedication and attention to detail. As I began working through the writing exercises a cautious optimism sprouted and inspiration from Tom’s book fertilised the fragile confidence. In the meantime I’d found a short-term solution to my dilemma over the sense of a question – I stopped worrying about it. Eventually the lounging, reading, trying to teach chickens to play gin rummy and playing guitar came to an end we packed up for Cadaques.
We landed smack in the centre of Cadaques. The first couple of days were overcast and chilly so we confined ourselves to wandering around the shops and rating the local cafes. Early, well relatively early, one morning we were shopping at the posh food store when I looked up to see an attractive woman smiling at me. My hands involuntarily jumped into action to make sure each hair was in place, my shoulders threw themselves back and my stomach retreated so far that had I not been wearing a belt my shorts would have dropped straight to my ankles. I returned the smile and started strutting about my business, like the cock on the farm, barely able to stay standing with the effort of trying to maintain an enticing profile. Eventually our paths crossed by the sweet biscuit section and one whiff was enough to confirm that this lady’s breakfast had consisted of a small coffee and a very large spliff. I wasn’t the Bond-like elegantly mature gentleman that anyone would love to take home and share with their flat mate but a fuzzy looking blobby thing that wiggled and bounced in an amusing manner. The lady walked straight past me, through a free standing display of nuts and crisps and out the door. I helped the shop keeper restore order to the display, paid for my purchases, went back to the house and cooked lunch.
Finally, after a couple of days the weather cleared and we set off for a walk along the coast to the light house at the point. Although the sky had cleared the wind was up and I looked forward, as at the end of our first stroll at the farm, to having a clean shirt by the end of the walk. As we left the town our surroundings began to transmute from the ordinary world of people to the fractured and fissured environment of the farm. The wind was strong – much stronger than the first day and we frequently stopped to admire the effect it was having on the sea. By and by we reached the light house and here the wind intensified further – it became a fearsome brute of a force. For some reason there was a need to face into it. With my back to the sea I stood and took the entire force front on. It was a howling torrent. Several times I had to adjust my feet to maintain my balance as gust after gust pummelled me. I threw out my arms like wings to maintain balance. The wind picked up the collars of my shirt. They slapped my face like trying to wake a drunk from his stupor – slapslapslapslapslap – wakeupwakeupwakeup!!! The wind poured in through every pore. Screamed in through my eyes. Inside my head the maelstrom scoured my mind. Thoughts, worries and cares where swept out to sea. Nothing remained in my head except the wind. My collars kept up their frantic slapping. Slowly I started to step forward. I crouched in an effort to become more aerodynamic… step… push…. step… push… step… push… Seventeen paces felt like seventeen hundred but eventually I rounded a corner and got into the lee of the wind. It felt like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house landed in Munchkin Land with one great walloping thump all the turmoil of the twister was replaced by peace and calm. Inside my head the wind had cast everything frivolous out to sea. That which need saving had been safely stowed away. At the centre was a pristine space. Instinctively I understood the wind had prepared this space for the answer to the question. If only I could find the question.