a wandering woman writes

Sunday, April 24, 2005

It might as well be spring

One of my stork neighbors, still perfecting the nest....

I say it's Spring, although Salmantinos keep arguing with me. They insist there's more winter to come, and as a transplanted Chicagoan I understand, I really do. I know to never completely trust April, but still..... my terazza garden is in, fat, green and happy, the storks have been back for weeks, and I took a undeniably Spring Sunday walk this morning.

The storks were out in full force - at least 5 or 6 adults, soaring over the river (on a very windy day, when gliding and soaring just must be more fun), gathering more sticks and weeds for their nests. I suspect they come down to the river to eat as well: tadpoles, frogs, worms, lizards. For weeks, I've been watching them glide by, carrying construction materials up to their nests in the cathedrals and the church steeples, looking much more like hang-gliders than birds. Or airborne sailboats - I suspect part of my fascination with them comes from how much they remind me of sailing. Storks swoop, soar and glide through the air without pumping their wings, most of the time. After a quick start they just ride whatever wind wave they find. If it's not the straightest line to their destination, it is the most efficient - no energy wasted fighting the wind, better to just go with it. Sailing! Then, as they prepare to land, they sit, like a hang-glider, lowering their legs gradually to a seated position, creating the drag that brings them sputtering down to firm ground.

You'd be hard pressed to find a church steeple in western Spain that is not inhabited by at least one family of storks; our cathedrals are each home to 3 or 4 couples. The baby-carrying legend doesn't hold, however; I've confused everyone I've mentioned it to. Seems the Spanish tell their children babies come "from Paris"!

Anyway, when I headed from the river to the Rua to buy bread, I ran into a tiny, seemingly spontaneous procession. A tamborilero (a man playing a drum and a recorder-like wind instrument at the same time- a traditional one-man band) was playing his was up the Rua to the Plaza Mayor, followed by a small group of older Salmantinos elegantly outfitted in long black capes. We are celebrating a fiesta this weekend, although not an interesting one. Seems each autonomous region can celebrate a maximum of 14 holidays, and this day is our 14th. A day to celebrate the province's heritage, claim the 14th holiday, and gather in the Plaza in long black capes.

The accordionist who provided the soundtrack for my walks home from work all summer was back in the little plaza by the Casa de las Conchas this morning, as well. Spring!

More proof of Spring's arrival below........

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