El albergue

El albergue

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Life, Big and Beautiful

“Life is big and beautiful,” I thought to myself as I sat in the Plaza de España taking advantage of the last weekend daylight before the sun disappeared and the sky went dark.  I had claimed a bench on the rim of one of the larger open areas earlier in order to plunge myself into the delights of James A. Michener’s Alaska, but now the novel was lying shut in my lap with my hands crossed on top of it, my attention lost in taking in the scenes of everyday life all around me.  I watched in amusement as the little sparrows wriggled themselves around in the loose dirt at my feet and fluffed their feathers to the max in order to better spread particles of dust all over their tiny bodies.  After a few minutes, I looked up with a little grin on my face, switching my focus from those charming little creatures to the people all around me.  I watched couples cuddling ob other benches, families taking an evening stroll together, tourists taking turns posing in front of both the big fountain and the huge statue dedicated to the author Quevedo.  I chuckled as I watched one little toddler in particular first do a little dance with her arms high in the air then plop down in the dirt and try to eat something her hovering father obviously didn’t want her to even touch.  Then I looked up, gazing through branches fast being denuded of their summer mantles, at the clear blue sky, and my attention drifted yet again to the buildings rising high all around me.  The edifice on my left was particularly beautiful as it basked in the final glowing rays of the sun, its  yellow stone taking on a golden hue.  An old man eased himself down onto the bench beside me and started talking to me in raspy mumble about the weather and how Madrid is a great city.  “Sí,” “Mm,” “Claro,” I answered to various assertions that I didn’t always quite get the full gist of.  “De dónde eres?” (“Where are you from?”)  Confident of my reply, I answered “De California,” then continued my part of the conversation with half smiles and nods that could go for either positive of negative agreement, as well as the odd murmured comment here and there.  We fell into companionable silence and watched the people around us.  After a couple of minutes, my friend slowly stood to his feet, bid me adieu, and quietly waddled away into the crowds milling about the craft fair in the middle of the plaza.  I remained seated in silence for a while longer, enjoying the sights and sounds of life, then I also got up from the bench and strolled on home.  And as I walked, I thought to myself, “Life is indeed big and beautiful, peaceful and full of so many wonderful things.”

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