It was a six hour time difference from New York to Barcelona, which made walking around in daytime oftentimes feel like a waking dream. Residents from South America or Australia had a harder time, wandering around the house somewhat dazed, nursing coffees. They would be back to normal, they said, in about a day.
Even though I still hadn’t gotten used to how sleep worked yet, I woke at seven to beat the morning shower rush. I stood, brushing my teeth at the sink and stared into the middle distance, trying to reboot systems.
As I dried my hair, one of the black little strays called from behind a hanging line of drying linens. I peeked around as sheet and it began to play hide and seek, slipping away as I came around to the other side. There were at least three black cats living at the farmhouse with us, the only way to tell them apart were by personality. This was the charming one of the lot, the talkative kitten that had half the residents here smitten.
On our walk into the village proper, we stood on a bridge and stared back at the Montserrat mountain. The ridge towered above the treeline like row of old men’s hands, burled and crooked at the knuckle. It was early enough that we 'd caught them still wreathed in the morning’s early mist. It was condensation that rose up from the valley at dawn, crowning the peaks by mid-morning. We all stood, taking in the act of viewing the mountain. None of us spoke. Someone snapped a photo.
The town walkways were laid down with earthen red tiles, coated with fine brown dust. Houses that populated the center of the town were neat, walled off units with clean sweeps of either cream or white stucco, dressed with trails of climbing ivy.
The Catalonian bakery we found in our wanderings was a brisk, little establishment with a few tables and chairs, and a whole back wall lined with shelves full of round, dark bread, baguettes, and sugar-dusted rolls.
We pointed out egg custard pastries to the woman behind the counter, and she folded them into wax paper and gave each end a brisk twist. Our decadent breakfast of pastries in-hand, we descended the steep hill to return to the farmhouse.
On the gravel path out of town, the shade was a welcome respite from the sun. Cicadas–or what I assumed were cicadas–sounded like miniature buzz-saws, perched in the trees overhead. They usually began to sing at the warmest part of the day, only for about an hour. For most people at the house, it was an omen that it was too hot to leave the house now, if you hadn’t already.
But cicadas were hardly the only insect we shared our space with. Countless ants, some as large as a toenail, roamed the arid wild, occasionally finding themselves on your leg or in your food. Butterflies were also many, drifting between tall clusters of wildflowers, yellow, white, Monarch.
The mornings, much like the sunsets in Spain seem to take the whole day, with nights gone by in a flash. During a break from work, some of gathered at the slate dinner table and shared a bottle of rose, speaking to the phenomenon of time perception. How odd, we mused, that our first few days here felt like years worth of time.
Better yet, were the delicious number of hidey-holes and tucked away, shady spots on the property, even in the house, where one could completely lose track of time working or reading without the danger of getting distracted. The whole place bent time and space. You could leave your room to grab something in the laundry room and take three different ways to get there, though sometimes I still managed to get lost, sidetracked. Every day I discovered a new piece of the house and committed it to memory.
I settled down that night behind a desk and went back to work, wondering about perception, he passage of time. I wondered how much of it we had the ability to make maleable, to change. I wondered about how things did indeed change, when you peered at them from a different angle, behind a different linen. How right now, as my bleary eyes looked at the clock and realized that right about now, everyone at home was on their way back from work, settling down to fix a dinner. Before long, I’d be working far past midnight, on a roll and not ready, yet, to sleep.
The house is most peaceful deep into night.