This past fall I took my soul for a stroll. When I set out from León, Spain, with Santiago on my mind, I had no notion of just how much that undefinable part of me wanted to walk. Apparently, it had been whispering to me for some time. Apparently, I hadn’t been paying much attention. But, once I got it out on “the Way,” once I got “da feets” moving, the rhythm established, the arms pumping, and the head evacuated, that intangible thing of mine started singing. It sang for eleven days. I’m back home now. The melodies aren’t quite as sweet, but the little guy keeps humming. Let’s see if I can recall some of the songs.
The first tune that comes to mind is the song of the countryside. It’s composed of green hills, and some muddy paths, bird whistles, harvested fields, pear trees, gravel walks, wild raspberries for the taking, stone bridges, berried trees and shrubs, cow paddies and lumbering bovines, shadows, streams and streams of light, a rainbow, racing clouds, and a rare puddle.
One hundred and sixty kilometers of the Camino calls forth the food tunes. These ditties sound like lentil soup, fresh pan fried hake and baked trout, olive oil on greens with a splash of lemon, razor thin sliced prosciutto, grilled octopus in herbed butter sauce, crusty country breads, that Spanish vegetable we call pork, good wines, stiff liqueurs, and desserts that only a good confession can forgive. (Absolution requires another few kilometers.)
There are songs to aching muscles, to blistered toes, to late afternoon yawns, to stiff backs, to the occasional leg cramp, to thirst, to being cold and damp, to being hot and sweaty, to being just right, to having had to find a private bush, to having found a private bush just in time, to creaking joints, to stumbles and to getting back up. These are seldom songs of complaint. They are reminders. “You’re alive, kid.” It’s a good thing to be reminded of that on occasion.
There were 13 pilgrims taking this stroll. The fellowship generated by those 26 feet made a song of its own. It chanted kindness, well told tales and jokes, the “buen Camino” of newly acquired Latin accents, helping hands, lost parents, good talk, good silence, a tear now and then, lit candles, clouds of incense, bits of nonsense, guffaws, encouragement, and sighs of “Oh dear, this is our last day.”
The soul-music list is long. So, I’ll stop here.
I’m now sittin’ in the Windy City, but the toes are still tappin’. I think they hear the singin.’ “Keep your dawgs moving, boy; it’s good for da soul.”
I wish to thank each of you for contributing so much to the music. Until our paths cross again…
And please take a look at the fantastic AV clip that fellow pilgrim Arthur Marquis lovingly put together. Sights and sounds. Alas, no tastes, smells or the feels of wind, sun and rain. Arthur Marquis’s Camino de Santiago.