The Swedes on the other hand, transported great quantities of dirt, gravel, steel and reinforced concrete to their spanish Sweden, converting the coastline into the shape of their former country. Sweden was not Spain and would still have to be recognized as Sweden. The atlantic wall of France became the eastern side of the Suedo-Franco Bay of SiegeLund. The Swedish engineers had such an impeccable command of French that the French opposition quickly dropped their opposition to the walling-off of their atlantic coastline. Pickled herring made a quick rebound in the continental cuisines of Normandy and Brittany. Fortunately the extension of northern Sweden stopped short of the English channel. The Brits made it known they would not tolerate an offshoot of Sweden off the western coast of Whales.
In spite of these progressive changes, the Swedes feared they would again fall into relative incognito, despite their newly acquired high-profile, geographic location. Fewer than 10 million people world-wide could speak Swedish. Spain had many millions more plus the bastions in South America. Around the world Spanish could be spoken and recognised as Spanish. The French had the word 'cafe' for worldwide recognition, the English, 'ok' and the Spaniards 'si and gracias' at the very least. Sweden could boast nothing more than 'smorgasbord,' or 'ombudsman,' and only speakers of the germanic languages would have any semblance of recognizing Swedish as Swedish, occasionally mistaking it for Norwegian. The Spaniards had language power and the prestige of grammar. Location had progressed their linguistics significantly during the formative years, but was no longer of relative importance. The followers of the language assured future prosperity and popularity for Spain. It's name sounded jubilant barrages of color and celebration. Even English could not compete on a comparable scale. The Swedes hoped their new location would progress the cause of the Swedish world-wide, that they would gain a champion of a word to become recognized around the globe.
And so I came to land on the western shore of Spain after a choppy voyage across the North sea, into the Baltic with a few stops on the islands newly donated by the Danes to the Spanes.
I landed in Barcelona, a small fishing village in an alcove beneath a steeply rising hill covered in clover. Barcelona did not yet have a dock. Thus, I have to hop from wooden boat to wooden boat to reach the shore. A whithered fishman passing by on a wooden plank sees me and the expanse of water I have wade before reaching the shore and offers to row me the rest of the way. He has piled the front of his plank high with nets to counter his weight centered on the back. I stand in the middle so as not to disturb the balance bewtween fishing nets and fisherman, and I have to shout to be heard as the plank is quite long and the fishman quite deaf.
He smiles and offers me some of his lunch, dried spinal columns from fish, vertebrae and all, neatly sealed in a zip-lock bag. I refuse. He shakes the bag against its seam a few times to show me how tightly he has sealed it. It seems the Spanish fishermen have not yet mastered the art of catching cod whole. On shore he waves me up the hill and grumbles a few things which implant a map in my mind. Madrid lies on the other side of the hill. I want to go to Madrid.
Madrid occupies 4/5 of the country. Barcelona and the bare hill surrounding it take up the remaining fifth. Mac and Maryann left for Madrid some years ago to make armor for a 5th generation conquistador. Since moving to Madrid Mac has held an art festival every year in his large courtyard. He sends me an invitation each year, and each year I send him a reply tacked to a large painting to be exhibited, saying that I cannot attend, would he please seat the paininting at the medeval-feast to act in my absence. Most years he sends the painting back after the feast. One year he wrote to sadly inform me that my painting had started the food fight that year and was not in a state to be shipped by surface mail. This year I sent a serigraph to assume my place, with the usual attached message.
I didn't tell Mac that I would be in Europe. I finished my studies at Karolinska early and have two weeks to spend travelling aimlessly. I think this is the week of his festival. The title this year was 'Ex-Surrale-Ex-Ex-Iedx-Exd-Pression' I should be able to crash in his courtyard with the hundreds of other people expected to attend.
Madrid begins in a cobblestone-lined ravine at the top of the hill. I jump the six feet to the bottom and watch the remains of the morning mists swirling around my feet. The cobblestone trench relates somehow to making goat cheese. I know of no other reason why it should be there. It has been there for some time, centuries perhaps.
It is probably 6 A.M, the hour when the old women leave their houses. Each carries an oblong wicker basket at least 4 feet in length. They use the baskets to collect long stalks of clover and heather to feed the goats that make the cheese. The goats make very special cheese here; they ferment it internally. It is best to eat the cheese warm, freshly excreted from the goat. How the goats excrete the cheese is still a mystery.
I consider climbing out of the trench so I can find my way to Mac's villa, but looking overhead it seems I have walked under an area covered by trellises with grape vines. No matter, I stop to ask a woman the way. She points in the direction I face before I can ask her.
The trench levels off after a kilometer or so and enters into a large field atop the hill. Mac's villa begins near a cluster trees backdropped by another rounded hill. Three series of low cinderblock walls lead from the end of the trench to his villa. Sometimes they criss-cross and I have to step over them.
At the villa a few people have begun milling around the courtyard in an attempt to begin the preparations for breakfast. I notice Stranger-Than-Purple among the throng of bodies semi-conscious on the terrace. Should I make myself known or just look for Mac and Maryann, but he notices me before I can duck into the house.
'Ahoy there, thar! . . didn't know you'd make-it! We've uh. yes, yes.. put the pastries over there, ' he says impatiently to a waifish boy holding a tray of circular pastries with spiral patterns of jam and frosting, 'Yes .. Yaaaz, quite a day, you missed the feast, went over ger-ate! as usual,' he waves a hand lazily in the air, 'show's here, art's there, well, you can see for yourself . . I'm,' he belches, 'well, ah, yes . . there's another, . . grey ladies are here, you missed Truman, he left yestidday, Evan's having another malarial fit, Belmot's around somewhere, . . I . . dunno . . who . . else,' he looks over his shoulder, staring at something in the distance. He has plumped considerably since I last saw him. His belly looks more than Falstaffian.
'Ed Cyrus around?' I ask. This regains his attention.
'Ed?, uh . .no.. not that I've seen. Haven't heard naught from him since his descent into Teneesee.' He sneers on Tennessee. 'But our ger-acious host and the Lady of the Fair will certainly welcome you into our humble enclive.' At first I think he says, 'endive' instead of, 'enclave.'
I nod as he turns around again. I take this as an opportunity to slip away. Sure enough, I find Maryann in the house. She seems quite shocked to see me.
'Well!, if it isn't the, thaa . . where was it you were from? North Carolina?'
'South Carolina.' I respond.
'Yeah, yes. !South Carolina!, North Carolina, Virginia, One of those ''southern'' places.' She looks quizically at me over the tops of her glasses then calls to her husband. 'Mac!, Miss !South Carolina! has arrived.' I never understand why she has to go through this idiocy. Mac scurries in, seemingly in deep thought. His wiry moustache reaches almost to his ears. I have to stiffle a laugh.
'Why? Well! You didn't tell us you'd be coming. Why, we'd have reserved a room on the porch with the artists .. Tom was here with June, I'm sure he'd like to . .' his voice trails off as he looks onto the porch. 'Well can't see 'em now, they're around.'
'Yeah, screwing in the orchard again,' Maryann interjects. She wanders off to the kitchen.
Mac takes me by the elbow and leads me into the garden near his shop. I want to ask him if he still has the 1919 Golding press .. what happened to the Centary . .and did he ever fix the upright sister of the Golding? He seems intent on showing me something so I hold off on asking him about these things. He stutters a bit before speaking. He always does this when organising his thoughts.
'I . .we . . I . I . . We did things a bit *differently* this year.'
We walk around the corner of his house and come face to face with three large columns of a deeply stained wood or metal each covered in vines. The bottoms disappear into a criss-crossed array of bricks covered with vines and ferns. Various sculptures and constructions have been placed on the columns.
'Here are the sculputes. We hung the paintings and drawings over there on some temp-walls.'
I am dumbfounded. I walk over to the first of the three columns. I recognize some of the metal sculptures made of brass. From a distance they look like letters and words, but on close inspection the letters dissolve into irregularly shaped bars of metal with engravings of faces and abstractions of plants and animals. 'John Froth,' I think. He sent me . . something . . for a show?, or a trade? What did I trade with him? I remember the piece he sent me, but I can't remember why.
Mac takes me over to the walls with the paintings and drawings. The walls curve around the garden in irregular patterns. In some places the bricks and mortar have fallen to the ground from lack of maintenance, and decay. I don't like the drawings as much. Most of them are simple crayon drawings that look like a five year-old drew them. They have been in the light too long. The papers have been overexposed.
I cross through an archway with Mac. He stops me.
'Here it is.'
'Oh.' I look over the archway. It is the silkscreen. I don't remember doing it. It looks like the multicolor 'Plasticine meets . .' I did out of fondness for Vijay except the massless yellow and orange blob swirls into something with a black focus and falling objects spiralling around it. The objects look like machines and quarters of faces . . did I do them to spiral into the black mass or to orbit around it?
'I guess we won't have to send it back,' Mac says.
'No. Prints are never to be returned. It is a permanent installation. It needs to withstand the weather.' I want to ask him where the Tom's sculptures are . . and if he brought any of his masonite boards. . . he had so many . . and I never got to see all of them.
Mac takes me to the fron of his house and points to the next hillside over which represents the edges of Madrid. The city extends for miles, as far as I can see. Mac then points to a very large house on about the same level as this one and tells me he will be living there next year, and we will actually hold the celebration within the limits of the city of Madrid.