Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Totems and Hankerings

Due to the lack of sunshine and the mind numbing dreariness of the persistent rain, I took myself off to the archives of my memory in search of some distraction.

And look at what I unearthed.

Totem poles from from an anonymous Spanish wizard.

Last July, I dragged GB and the 2 male offspring off to the north of Spain to cycle some 1000 kms across the original Way of St. James (my original desire was to walk but compromise is everything, and the males, as is their wont, wanted 'instant gratification'). Some eyebrows raise at the thought of this being a holiday.

On our journey we encountered the strange, the wonderful, the weird, the beautiful in myriad disguises of animal, vegetable and mineral.

And, now as I trawl through the memories, this seemingly strange, but innocuous photo is a powerful catalyst for mysterious hankerings.

We were nearing the end of our day's cycle. 40 miles in the legs, 20 still to do. The 2 bowsies were off on the horizon, haring like rabbits over the stony paths, hell bent on keeping their pater familias firmly in his place (they are, surprisingly, quite tolerant of my meanderings, my incessant photo stops, water stops and pee stops). GB, as ever, unwilling to bow to the supremacy of youth, is furiously pedalling, in a cardiac threatening manner, to shorten the gap between them. He is torn between ensuring that his life partner remains on the straight and narrow and putting manners on the whipper snappers. The devil and the deep blue sea springs to mind here. As does pissing against the wind.

Straggling way behind at a much more leisurely pace, my eyes are feasting on the beauty and serenity of my surroundings. I am tootling along, lost in the silence. Not a sight or a sound as far as the senses can discern, to indicate human incursions on the landscape .... Warm sun baking the earth, trees providing some modicum of shade, the odd bird twittering maniacally.


And then I see them.

The totems.

In the middle of nowhere. Standing tall and majestic, lord of all they survey.

Of course, I stopped.

A large field filled with totems, sculptured heads, torsos and a large selection of works in progress. How could one not screech to a halt?

Scrambling the 8ft wire fence, it did occur to me that maybe I should be a little wary.

To hell with that.

Curiousity ALWAYS wins.

It was an absolute delight. An Aladdins Cave of an Anonymous Dreamer. A one-acre field filled with half-started, half-finished monuments to the creative urge. There was a small shed at the far end of the field filled with tools, materials and the remnants of some well eaten lunches. A few rough sketches adorned the tin walls. Apart from the dirty, navy overalls discarded carelessly on the floor and the empty wine and water bottles, there was little to indicate that anyone had been here in the last couple of years. I felt like an intruder.

But then, of course, I was an intruder. Literally speaking.

But, when I stepped outside of the shed, I no longer felt uninvited.

I felt as if I had been made an offer. An offer I couldn't refuse. A invitation to view the wordless, beauty of hand crafted treasures set in the silent grandeur of this quiet, unassuming countryside. A privilege.

I lingered for as long as I dared and felt the hankerings, normally very well-behaved, stir deep down inside. Its not often that I indulge these buried longings. But I did. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

I wonder now, as I did that afternoon, who was the creator of these symbols. Having put so much energy, sweat and toil into creating them ... did they just abandon them? Or are they a continuing monument to one man or woman's dream, placed exactly where they should be in a silent patch of the universe, their only mission in life to stir the hankerings of all those who happen upon them?

If so, mission accomplished.

GB returned, grumbling incoherently about mid-day sun and mad dogs and wayward spouses and unrepentant scallywags. I dutifully scaled the fence and was quietly unrepentant.

The hankerings are still there and not so well buried anymore.


Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Good morning,

Came by at the recommendation of Hearts in SF, and I am so glad I did! She has excellent taste.

Loved this post, your words flow well, and the emotion you evoke is poignant. I quite enjoyed this bike ride that you took me on, and the discovery of a secret garden filled with the manifested dreams of others. What wonders lie beyond the walls...
And you are one for whom walls are only exercise. That's wonderful!

I'll have to link to you, to visit again, this gem of a place is too good to only see once.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore (the lion)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I am nearly wordless at the wonder of it! It makes me think of Descarte's tree in the forest, the one that may or may not really exist if no one sees it fall.

It seems you stumbled upon another realm, or dimension, or journeyed through the looking glass.

Where in Spain was it? I have never heard of totems in that country. They are fascinating in the way that Stonehenge is, because they stir up ancient yearnings which perhaps have always existed at the cellular level.

This is a beautiful post on so many levels. Thank you for sharing it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think I was wrong about the tree conundrum being attributable to Descartes. Bishop George Berkeley posited that if a tree fell in the forest and no one was there to hear it, did it really fall?

Well, anyway, I'm pretty sure that it wasn't Charles M. Schulz who said it.

mcewen said...

I love Totem Poles [but I think that they'd rot in England]

Diana said...

But of course you had to stop and explore.

Silly men.

It occurs to me that the title of your blog is a fitting title to the picture.

(So very nice that you found me so that I could find you!)

sMC said...

hanker on Rise :) but keep telling us.

Lee said...

Beautiful. I'm all in favour of hankering.

Tanya Brown said...

Wow; these are cool! The tops have a bit of a Miro quality, don't they?

Do you have some more photos? There has to be a story behind these.

Molly said...

Amazing...if I might make so bold as to ask, what kind of hankerings?? And what are they made of?

Tracey Petersen said...

I LOVE them! Beautiful. I am lost in imagining the totem maker, just pleasing his/her own cretaive lust, gluing the terracotta tiles into place. Fantastic!

My float said...

Wow, what beautiful writing, it's breathtaking.

(And how majestic are those totems.)

fifi said...

what a lovely discovery.
Was it on the pilgrimage route? I would love to do that.

Perhaps your hankerings will acquire a new form and demand to be let out...

Princess Banter said...

Beautiful!!! I wish I could be there to see those as well! Aaah, the rain is wonderful, isn't it? It takes you to wonderful places...

meggie said...

That is a perfectly understandable, hankering. What wonders are there for the seeker.

Barbara said...

What an ambitious trip! I would have been hard pressed to ask around and find out the origin of your totems. I'm sure they come with a good story.

Isabelle said...

Yes, I agree with all those comments, but I'm so impressed that none of the commenters said 1000 KILOMETERS!!!!!????? IN SPAIN????? WHERE IT'S VERY HOT??????

Ok, now I understand why you're wand slim and I'm not.

Very striking totems too, of course.

Pauline said...

The best part of wandering is the discovery of things otherwise hidden...hanker on!