it is a boost for local businesses without which we would be all the poorer

You need to park your impatience, heed the goodness.

This is going to take time. Shopping in our mountain town on market day is enriched with life from the tranquil villages of The Priorat. Precious few people are in a hurry. It is unwise to make plans or clock-watch. Your blood pressure could turn you puce.

There is no bustle, just a subtle heightening of being, from the catch-up chatter in cafes to the queues in the banks, bakeries and butchers.

Half the car park is swallowed for a morning, as stalls fill the void and a steady flow of folk consider the wares and the pears, the prices and the plethora of sustenance on offer for the week ahead.

It is Catalan. It is multicultural. It is colour, it is weekly reunions and the aroma of coffee. Time, place and pace are the bond. Just as vitally it is a boost for local businesses without which we would be all the poorer.

If we are calm and have the time it is good to be there, to abandon agenda and switch off from the wider world to the one that matters most. I may even attempt it on my own, a man with a list, but this can, foolishly, add an irrepressible seed of urgency. In trying not to make a mistake or forget something I am inclined to forget the most important aspect of all.

I was surprised on a recent solo foray to see just one elderly woman being served in our butchers. So I veered in, feeling fortunate. I should have put two and two together. She was not from the town and it dawned on me almost immediately that this was going to be a long haul. Bowed like a Catalan staircase and well beyond 80 years, she was leaning on the counter and watching like a hawk as a chicken was quartered. She shuffled sideways and pointed out her next order. It is a long counter. I lost count of the shuffles. More people flowed in, some settling on the bench by the side window for a natter. The woman’s stockpiling of her freezer amounted, finally, to three bulging shopping bags, clearly far more than she could carry.

As several of us twitched as to how we could help, the door opened and her husband called warmly to her and laboured in, leaning heavily on a walking stick. We all twitched again. The man nearest to the couple offered to help but the indefatigable husband was having none of it. Somehow they waddled out into the street and round the corner, weighed with half the fare from the shop.

The warmth and smiles they generated in that moment spoke of the spirit and sustaining essence, the ribbon of continuity, that is market day.

Steady as you go. Keep on keeping on.

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