Usually this chapter, I show this painting I made called our Lady of Black’s Beach and tell the story of how Maui was cracked in half by Hine-Nui-Te-Po when he tried to swim up her birth canal. Then go into detail about Dave the Tank marginalies or Bruce the Barbinskate, Jack the lego maniac and Bob the seal who lives with Corona the dog in a shack at Rosarito Mexico by the power plant and taco stands and ship wreck in the line up. That painting is about the landscape called the mother ocean. But I have already told a few surf stories and try not to be repetitious.

Then there is a painting about the mojave desert called zzyzx, a scene of a lump of a hill named san bruno mountain, a gathering in the forest that goes by mendocino woodlands, and the rainforest we visited for our honey moon by the river of secoya territory. All different kinds of landscape designs with distinct feels.

Well never did tell y’all about this painting called alcoina. Its kinda rough in a way, not sure I ever really finished it, but good enough to tell a story by so here goes:

Theres a little town in the south of spain. That is where my wife’s family is from. She got a mom, a dad, and five brothers and sisters. She the littlest one.

Theres town, and theres country. Town is the church called san juan where all the celebrations and memorials go down and loquat tree and roses out front. Streets are narrow of hand laid pebbles and cobbles that barely fit a fiat or a citroen or a seat with pelargoniums hanging on the walls. Past the hardware store is a yellow colored convent with brick columns and some young adults rolling a cigarette of hash and tobacco across the street. Theres a central gathering space called the alameda where after dinner when its cooled off you go for a walk and see everybody out and about. Go back and forth chatting gossiping while kids are running circles around the canes and walkers and horses with braided tails. Adolescents roaming in packs and courting or chillin’ at a sit down at the burger joint.

Country is woods of pines planted by general franco and understory of feral pig tracks and limestone. In the clearings theres rosemary and thyme and rock rose and wild carnations. Fields of esparto grass punctuated by asphodeles and teucrium or a clump of palmitos chamaerops. Reminds me of cali with the big oaks, but add some carob trees and figs, and an escaped pomegranate bush or two or three. And the bright orange of a persimmon come december.

Water comes down as rainfall in the winter, running through the mountains and popping up in fountains all the way through town. Some of it runs in creeks, creeks filled with giant reed grass. Giant reed grass farmers cut to make stakes and trellises for their tomato crop. Some of the water runs in irrigation canals, of concrete construction with movable gates and valves introduced by the moors way back. Flood irrigation for hard corn and orange groves. By the canals next to the roads, its annual displays of wild pink snapdragon conejitos and red poppies and blue purple trachelium.

Besides fig, orange, and lemon trees, a couple of other trees stand out. One is the canary island phoenix palm with its majestic stature and robust form. The other is of course the olive trees that dot the hills, pruned short and squat, with ancient trunks and hardy yet fine foliage. Introduced by roman armies way back, and happy to stay.

The architecture is a mix. Its got the thick white walls of lime and interiors of sierran rocks and clay mud from river bottoms. The arches are north african middle eastern, the tile motifs are muslim, the theme is geometrical and repetitious mathematical. African is only about 9 miles away, after all.

In late january february the first blooms of the year arrive. They belong to the white and pink flowers of the almonds. They burst like sprays of phosphorescent seas all over the landscape.

Every easter, a week before sunday, every neighborhood decorates a big ol cross eight nine feet tall full of flowers. Its placed in the middle of the street and people and petals are scattered all around it. Streets are strewn and decorated with the pinnate leaves of palms. Usually the cross is made of carnations in red, or in white. It is like a competition but not really, just each group of ladies showing pride and joy, bound by the theme of resurrection. There is the Jesus statue too, in the alameda, another cross blended with the symbols of death and rebirth and renewal that spring brings.

Later, in may, is the romeria. That is when the whole town dresses up fancy and walks the two three miles outside of town to greet and receive the tiny little virgin statue hidden in a cave, found by the farmer and shepherds. That is why you see the bull dressed up in his best gear and the two brothers too, Antonio and Pepe. They are there to prod the bull along and do their work as the mamporero. My wife has three older sisters, they are there too. One is a politician activist name Ana, another is a botanist poet named Aurora, and the last is a great mom and grandma and baby sitter and cook and all around busy body named Isabel. Mom Maria is in the upper left, doing her flamenco thing with the tamborine sun, and dad Sebastian is on the right with the arching moorish moon, he is guardia civil and marine. But I mounted him on a donkey since I really like donkeys and isnt that how jesus went into jerusalem?

The whole design is a play on opposites – town and country, male and female, brother and sister, mom and dad, cultivated and wild, christian and muslim, water and earth, sun and moon, light and dark.

Thats about it. Feeling thirsty, I’m gonna go pick some grapes hanging off the top of dome, or catch a drink at the fountain with Loli.

Happy thanksgiving!