Thursday, 18 August 2011

Once upon a mountain

Sophie (now Bond), my daughter, visited, and drew the house

You don't always know when a seed is being sown, how or when it will sprout, or what it will grow into. Sometimes you have in inkling, though. (Or do I mean a pre-seedling?) In 2005 I left home alone for the first time in a very long time. I made my way to Can Serrat, a writers' and artists' residency at the foot of Mont Serrat an hour's bus ride from Barcelona. There I met Dorothee Kocks, author of The Glass Harmonica.

I wrote about this, and today the story appears on the Can Serrat blog.

Every year Can Serrat offers a full stipend for a month to two writers and two visual artists. For a modest fee, and sometimes for a part stipend, writers and artists are welcome to stay and work at the casa beneath the mountain I came to love.

As I wrote in Digging for Spain: A Writer's Journey:

I have fallen in love with Montserrat. Returning on the bus from the city, my heart goes ba-doom when it floats into sight, always subtly altered since the last viewing. I’m not the first to feel this way. Goethe said, ‘Nowhere but in his own Montserrat will a man find happiness and peace.’ (I wonder if it ever crossed his mind that a woman might in hers.) The other day clouds massed and towered into the blue in the astonishing way I’d only ever seen in Paris ten days earlier. By the time I was on the bus to the city they’d been crushed to a dense slate on which Montserrat’s bulbous crenellations were painted in smoky pink. So, to crown my day as with flowers, I walk up through the almond orchard, over the desiccated herbs, under the pines, until I have a clear view of the mountain and if I can find a good thing to sit on — that isn’t prickly or puffy with dust or en route to the ant colony — I go down and adore.

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