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Spanish Secrets: Octopod Or Twins?

"Like a good shepherd he lifted the two young lambs, placing one under each arm...'' While doing a good deed for friends in a hamlet high in the Galician hills, Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie encounter two hungry creatures who are just six hours old.

After enjoying this slice of Galician life, click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page and enjoy Craig's experiences through the seasons in this beautiful part of Spain.

The morning’s thick fog envelopes the house like a vaporous shroud. The dense mist clings to its surroundings, choking the countryside. The morning sun illuminates the eastern sky like torchlight through frosted glass, struggling to penetrate this swathe of cold damp cloud. The strength and brightness of the morning’s luminescence clearly indicates that the sun will eventually prevail in this climatic struggle.

Today would be a good day to check the mail at our friend’s farmhouse. Their rural getaway, a Spanish home-from-home, is situated high in the surrounding hills. We’ve learnt from experience that on such climatically claustrophobic days, driving from our valley home into the nearby hills can be an uplifting experience. Today is no exception.

As the highway ascends, the cloud density remains unchanged. What changes is its brightness; its lustre. The atmosphere’s shadowy shade mutates from dark grey to light grey, brightening into precious silver and finally brilliant white.

As if rising from the depths of the ocean and breaking through the surface of a calm sea, our car cuts through the bright cloud into a kaleidoscope of vibrant fresh colours. A deep blue cloudless sky; fresh green fields bathed in glorious sunlight and enclosed in sparkling granite dry-stone walls. Even the dry asphalt surface of the highway lookes clear and clean.

We follow this smooth surface as it twists and turns, narrowing as it climbs up the hillside. Higher and higher we drive until we reach a remote little hamlet, the location of our friend’s farmhouse. We park in the lane and walk the short distance to the house.

The vastness of the panorama is limited only by the inadequacy of our vision. Distant mountains circle around us creating a natural basin. Like a giant volcanic cone the basin is submerged in an impenetrable sea of soupy-grey cloud. Hilltop peaks puncture the misty lagoon like a series of tiny islands suffused in morning sunlight.

Our morning mission becomes inconsequential to this living canvas. After checking the mailbox a high-pitched bleat from a young lamb pierces the still air. We stroll back up the lane to find the source of this hungry shrill. As we round the corner of the house, a villager is shepherding a young ewe and her twin lambs along the lane.

These two insecure lambs stumble under their patient mother in search of life’s liquid nourishment. Eight very tiny woollen-socked legs act as frail supports. They are knock-kneed and unsynchronised, faltering in-and-out, from back-to-front.

The villager explains that these two little bundles of fluff were just six hours old. The mother had run off from the flock and given birth to them on her own. Like a good shepherd he lifted the two young lambs, placing one under each arm. With tails wagging, loud bleating and their mother in hot pursuit, he carries them off to the safety of a warm and quiet pen.

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Copyright © 2005 Craig Briggs

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