work exchange

brought me to the upstairs kitchen

After I had been shown my room — so beautiful with those beams crossing the ceiling and an ensuite toilet-sink-shower room tiled tinily in cobalt, the only room on the ground floor — to let me be closest to guests’ dinner dishes and other needs, I guess — and called Ura, the Basque word for water — Alberta Clara brought me to the upstairs kitchen and gave me to prepare us all a lunchtime salad of tomato, cucumber, carrot and lettuce from the garden, tinned tuna, and a packaged beet that I watched her cut the mold from but later tasted had been deeply penetrated by the flavor of funk. She did other things in the kitchen and the surrounding rooms in which their family lives and kept up an instructive monologue in a mix of French and English on the difference between desayuno, almuerzo, cena, and comida, between cocina abajo or arriba. Very helpful, but amid the multitask she missed that I was leaving the peel on the cucumber until it was too late to correct to her preference, and we were both embarrassed. 

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to feed the chickens

One of my jobs here will be to feed the chickens, let them out, bring them in, and gather their eggs for our use. In my first attempt, under Ilari’s bored teen supervision, I dropped and broke one. Immediately the chickens crowded around to eat its oozing contents from the cracked shell and packed mud. Nice, Guys.

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I studied the bulbs

After eating little Zaviera and I pulled weeds out front.

I studied the bulbs of what she dug up so I could do same with minimized error and thought how much easier it is to navigate something delicate like this with language to share and how, to my benefit in conditions to the contrary, seven is the perfect age to teach an elder in the garden by pantomime. 

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good morning to my first day at this casa rural

Good morning to my first full day at this casa rural that has no address. Dreams about drinking rosé in weirdly unbreakable glasses. Woke to pee and then couldn’t sleep again for a while for all my anxieties about new heights of isolation. Finally put my last bandaid on the cut on my finger from trying to open my beer in unorthodox and ill-conceived ways yesterday on the bus from San Sebastián, which during my sleep had grown dry and painful, and that comfort let me drift back off, into dreams about meeting men for photoshoots and elaborate breakfasts, a dual impossibility for the foreseeable waking future.

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I forgot to shut in the chickens

I forgot to shut in the chickens last night, and this morning I woke up to the crowing of cock. Are the two related? I can’t remember whether yesterday, cooped up, he did. I jumped up and went out, all worried about being caught in negligence so early in this exchange of work for keep — whoops — and cajoled them, all enthusiasm and wet feathers about being out all night in the rain, back into their enclosure using unscheduled bonanza feed. Then I chopsticked egregious chicken shit from the patio stones, thinking about any other tells I could try to erase and get away with it, just this once, I promise. I hope it’s okay, that no chickens are found lost today to coyotes or whatever apex fowl predator prowls these chilly Spanish hills. 

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