Song of the Streets

The boys and I walk to their school in the mornings now. It’s roughly a ten minute amble, and with every step, I unlock another secret of my town.

My neighbor sits by his front door as we pass, his terrace sagging with soon-to-be-harvested grapevines. “Buenas,” he calls, lifting an arm in greeting.

We cross the street, my younger son tugging at my hand, as my oldest trots ahead.  We see Manolo, unloading the day’s produce for his fruiteria, and the boys briefly survey the pickings. “Melacoton,” my son whispers, dreaming of the juicy, orange eruption of these summer peaches.

We continue on, and smell the bleach as the women clean their patios and front porches. Brushes swoosh against the tile and brickwork. “Hola,” I say, as a city sanitation worker sweeps the sidewalk. “Buenas,” she drawls, still too sleepy (and Andalusian) to finish the phrase.

Cups clink and milk froths, as old men sit with their morning cafe. Women walk their teacup dogs while carrying bags of hot bread from the panaderia.

I hear the whisper of the ocean with each step.

We move past the farmacia, where a family congregates each morning. A boy, about four years old, rests on his grandfather’s lap as he sits his wheelchair. He holds his abuelo’s cheeks in each hand, gently patting them. A smile creases his face.

We cross the street again, and watch a white cat, supine on a windowsill, studying the fishmonger as he carries the day’s catch into the pescaderia.

I drop the kids off at school, and pick them up five hours later. As we return home, the sun pounds, and we stop on benches. Sometimes, we visit a kiosko for drinks or penny candy.  We listen to the motos as they rumble down the road, weaving between cars and amongst bicycles.

I smell the olive oil as people prepare their tables for their afternoon almuerzo.  The town is sleepy and thick, ready to recline.

Sometimes, we stop by our landlord’s shop, and climb his ladders, or roll on empty spools of industrial wire.

I refrain.

We return to our home, where the walls are thick and cool, and the tile feels smooth on our bare feet. We wrap ourselves in its silence, a repast, a cocooning.

And every day, we step outside it once again. We walk the streets, and call out our greetings. Day by day, we join its rhythm, and day by day, we add our voices to the song.

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Streets

  1. Nancy, you have captured a life style that was lost about 75 years ago in the US when we stopped living in our neighborhoods and became umbilically attached to our automobiles. Too often now in the US we don’t even know, let alone appreciate, our neighbors and the neighborhood. Enjoy this time and place with your boys. They may not actively remember it, but you can ponder these things in your heart. Thanks for sharing with us what life can be like.

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