As I walked out one Midsummer Morning
“I was in Spain, and the new life beginning. I had a few shillings in my pocket and no return ticket, I had a knapsack, blanket, spare shirt and a fiddle, and enough words to ask for a glass of water… I suddenly felt the urge to get moving. So I cut the last cord and changed my shillings for pesetas, bought some bread and fruit, left the seaport behind me and headed straight for the open country”
Between the Wars, the nineteen year old author set off across Depression hit England carrying a tent, a violin and a box of treacle biscuits. He followed this with a wander through sun beaten Spain, to the coast of Andalusia, relying for the greater part, on his violin for sustenance, and the one Spanish phrase he knew- ‘a glass of water please?‘
“I spent the first night in a grove of oak trees, lying on leaves as wet as Wales, under a heavy dew and a cold sharp moon and surrounded by the continuous bells of sheep. In the morning I woke shivering to eat a breakfast of goat’s cheese, which the night had soaked and softened, then watched the sunlight move slowly down the trunks of the pine trees, dark red, as though they bled from the top. Nearby was a waterfall pouring into a bowl of rock, where I stripped and took a short sharp bathe. It was snow-cold, brutal and revivifying, secluded among the trees, and when I’d finished I sat naked on a mossy stone, slowly drying in the rising sun”
Sleeping in fields, olive groves and courtyards, the man made his mistakes happily, and equally as happily accepted fortuitous serendipity when encountered. He enjoyed both great kindness and hospitality, yet saw tragedy and the dark underbelly of a country heading toward its own awful civil war.
“I saw a little farmhouse and knocked on the door. It was opened by a young man with a rifle who held up a lantern to my face. I noticed he was wearing the Republican armband. ‘I’ve come to join you.’ I said. ‘Pase usted,’ he answered. I was back in Spain, with a winter of war before me”
Book in featured image:
As I walked out one Midsummer Morning, Laurie Lee. Andre Deutsch, 1969