Acupuncture, singing, work, greenery, caterpillars, sky, and clothes
Yesterday’s third acupuncture treatment was wonderful. It gave me energy and calm; precisely the two things I needed last night to survive the choir practice – a slightly different group of singers from Tuesday night – for this Sunday’s festival at São Faustino, the little chapel on the hill where I used to sweep until about a month ago. (The job has been given to someone else because I have other commitments.) Either my ears were blocked, or more than half those present were singing flat. Rather than try to out-sing them, I simply stopped until I could find my place again, and then continued. Enthusiasm sometimes wins out over precision. I pondered, while doing breathing exercises learned in a negotiation workshop last year, at how strange my voice must seem to those singing flat.
The calm continued despite a very intense, working day, with a pleasing total number of words translated at the end of it all, and another short but urgent piece on the tail end of the major deadline of the day.
It was with a skip in my step that I headed off in my oldest clothes to pick sweet-smelling greenery in the fields, called iscas in these parts. I have forgotten the botanical name. The greenery and flowers are used to decorate the plinth on which the image of St. Faustin stands. In the four successive years I have tramped about the fields wielding an old bread knife, I have never come across a caterpillar. Well, today, I did. It was a thing of beauty with luminescent tinges of blue, yellow and red pulsating along its dark green and white body, the top of which was studded with two rows of tiny black dots. I stopped my work to show my fellow picker, Marianne. She thought it might one day become a red Monarch butterfly. The photograph I took does not do the creature – or my wonder at it – any justice:
It was the first day in many that I have been outdoors for any length of time. It felt good to feel the heat of the three o’clock sun. I shall confess that I did rather more walking than necessary up and down the hillside just to feel a little more rigorous and sweaty about the whole affair.
After failing to get a good shot of the caterpillar against the brilliant blue Algarvian sky, we collected one more bundle, tied up in an old sheet of the greenery pictured above, and drove up to the chapel where two ladies were waiting with what seemed to be every flower from their garden. For now, it is stored in the cool side room until tomorrow afternoon, when decorating begins in earnest with the ladies in the community.
My day ended with a friend giving me some clothes I like. I find receiving clothes this way so much more pleasurable than shopping.
These many and diverse activities have left me feeling strangely alive.
There is no need to mention that I had fava beans for lunch, is there?