(En dos parts, avuí en anglès, demà en català) Tomorrow, 23rd April is Saint George’s Day – known in Catalan as Sant Jordi (their patron saint). The legend has it that here in Catalonia he also killed a dragon to save a princess. And where the dragon’s blood soaked into the ground, a rose grew. This day is very significant for Catalans and enjoys a wonderful celebration which has to be the envy of other nations – people buy books!
Tradition has it that boys and men buy roses for girls and women, while they offer a book in return. But obviously books and roses abound, be what may the people’s sex. Book stores are open all day with outdoor stands showing an infinite choice of wonders. People flood the streets, up and down all day, stopping off for a coffee, or beer, before continuing their family strolls in this magnificent peaceful cultural celebration – all topped off with public poetry readings or book presentations. A “festa” worth exporting.
So there I was setting this blog up on the 22nd April 2009, after a few dry runs in previous days, but things got more complicated than expected, time flies, and by pure chance it was the early hours of the 23rd when the blog was born! Two years can be summarised in numbers, about 20,000 visits, from far too many nations to mention, 520 entries, with over 500 songs.
Getting back to the origins, here’s another Tale from a far-off country called Tannu Tuva (with home-baked Catalan translation tomorrow).
Once upon a time there lived a grey Owl in a thick green forest. The Owl was so lazy that she even didn't bother to fly from one tree to another.
One warm day she was fast asleep in a larch-tree when a Woodpecker flew up quite near and began pecking this very tree. The Owl woke up, shook her crumpled wings and asked in a sleepy voice: ``Why are you so noisy? You awoke me, wicked Woodpecker!''
``Can't you see?'' answered the Woodpecker, looking at her in amazement with his eyes, as small as millet grains, ``I am feeding myself.''
``Can't you find another place? Get lost!'' cried the Owl.
``Everybody has so much to do, only you are idle all the time,'' said the Woodpecker and flew away.
The Owl had settled comfortably on her branch and almost fell asleep again when she heard the dreadful noise the Magpie made, chattering just near her.
The Owl scolded the Magpie but in vain. The Magpie was not afraid and answered arrogantly: ``Why are you always sleeping? Look around! All the bird are far too busy to sleep. Some are feeding their nestlings, others collecting bedding for their nests.''
Before the Owl had time to answer her, the Magpie flew away to the forest to listen to local gossip which she loved dearly.
The Owl was at the point of falling asleep once again when she heard somebody flying just over her head. It turned out to be the small Tomtit who was busy collecting poplar down for her nest.
The Owl watched for some time the birds flying, grasshoppers chirping, swarms of midges buzzing, She felt somewhat ashamed and thought: ``I'll get around to building my nest one day.''
Night fell. There was quite a nip in the air. The Owl shivered and tried to get warm pressing her wings tight to her body. She remembered the Tomtit's warm nest. She wished she could sleep in such a nest.
The night seemed very long and cold. Even the eyes of hundreds of stars in the sky looked frozen and dim. The Owl felt she would die of cold while waiting for the crack of dawn. The sun rose at last and everything got warm. The Owl felt snug and warm and fell asleep.
That is how one day followed the other but the lazy Owl never built her nest.
A song, a classic, words cannot do it justice, Stevie Nicks with Beauty and the Beast.