A few days of driving have brought us down to the Pyrenees. In terms of human habitation this landscape is one of the oldest on Earth, yet humans live lightly here. Nature still holds sway in these mountains. It softens me whenever I return. Recent months have required so much striving. Here the prompting is to let be a little.
This morning was a trip over the mountains and down into the valley for provisions - wine, food and plants. This afternoon belonged to writing. Yet it seemed right to let this place call up something new.
A 'novel' began itself here a few years ago, The Lovely Life of Arnold. It was an outrageously positive take on gay life, a fictional autobiography told in seven year stages. To take one example, the parents of Arnold were alert to their son's gayness as a baby. They had no other children, for their gay child had rendered their family perfect. One whole scene was prompted just by walking into these mountains and fingering a chestnut, the spikes on its vibrant green casing still somewhat soft to the touch. Somehow that incident showed me how sexuality is simply a part of nature, as radical and beautiful and unchallenging as that. That's what this novel is about.
So today I have let go of other writing schemes and projects to return to that story. The ages of seven, fourteen and twenty-one are written. Other scenes are also written, but without my really knowing what age they pertain to. I mused for an hour over the wider scheme of Arnold's life, staring down across the river while the neighbourhood cat dozed beside me on the wall, then began work on Age 28. The radical switch for today was allowing for grief to come in, for Arnold's happiness to be besmirched. This feels as though it has given the book new life. I want it to be positive but not vapid. Arnold is great at rising above things, so we'll watch him rise above the current despond.
I have about three weeks of writing here, before heading north again. That span of time, and the situation of being apart from the world while so much at one with my surroundings, seem perfect for the length of one of these chapters, each of which is a story in itself. Pollen was laying me low earlier. Writing helps me be somewhat like Arnold, rising above it.
Time for the constitutional loopwalk, beside the church and up into the hills before descending to the valley road and following it back to the village. Then high time to pop a cork and prepare for sunset.