Trillo

When José was born we looked for a larger country house to live in. There is nothing better for a child than to play with lizards, raise worms in shoe boxes, build tree houses and to develop true friendships.

When José was born we looked for a larger country house to live in. There is nothing better for a child than to play with lizards, raise worms in shoe boxes, build tree houses and to find true friendship in a place where the air is pristine. After much searching, the house found me. It happened one day while I was on one of my excursions through the countryside - the discovery occurred in Valdenarros, a beautiful village in the province of Soria, Spain. The house was abandoned, and you could hardly see it through the thickets and weeds that embraced it. There were also flowers, and when I approached to take a picture of one of them, I saw a beautiful porch with wooden columns and a beamed ceiling...it was the porch I had seen many times in my dreams.

The task of restoring what we already felt was our home was arduous and edifying - six months of working non-stop alongside the construction crew. To tell the truth, which is always the best option, even if I did not lay any bricks myself, I participate in every step of the process. Now that Jose is seven years old, we have decided to redecorate our home. We have taught our son that a house is only a home when everyone living there feels comfortable in it. For that reason, he accompanies me to the stores, flea markets, and street vendors....where I look for, and sometimes find, new treasures for our home.

"Mom, what is this?" José inquired when we entered an antique shop. He was awestruck when he saw a "trillo" which had been transformed from a farm implement into an enormous and impressive table.

The owner of the shop approached us when he heard José's question. He was an old man, about eighty, with grey hair, an affable smile, and youthful eyes that disguised his life experience. He smelled like my grandfather - a mixture of soap, coffee, and toast.

"This is a "trillo", a threshing board," he replied to José.

"And what is a threshing board?"

"It is a farm tool used to thresh."

And Jose, ever the inquisitive child, continued to seek an answer to his question. He persisted, "But what is a threshing board and what is to thresh?"

"My apologies. You are right - I did not give you a clear answer. The "trillos" were used in your grandparents' time, and long before that, to separate the grain from the straw, which is called "trillar" or to thresh. As you can see, the "trillo" is made from long rectangular pieces of wood."

"Come closer. See how it curves and narrows at the front like a snow sled. And see these sharp stone shards covering the bottom, they are the blades that cut the straw and separate the grain."

"Was the "trillo" used in the fields?"

"Yes, it was dragged by two mules or oxen. Do you know what those are? "

"Sure I do!" replied Jose, in the tone of voice he used when he wanted to make it clear that he was not a child.

"Of course you know. You are a big boy." said the old man smiling.

When the old man was talking, I found myself recalling a time long past, when I was 7 years old.

"Almudena. What are you doing up there?"

"I am flying, Grandpa. This is my magic carpet. I am a princess that was rescued by a prince to bring me back to my kingdom in the stars."

"You are always in your own world, and it is impossible to bring you out of there," said my grandfather as he left the stable. He understood that I wasn't like other children.

That year, as all the years from the time I was born, I spent the summer with my paternal grandparents. These were two months of harvesting, of eating well, and of getting up at sunrise. Osco, the rooster, heralded each new day with precise punctuality. Every day we had breakfast, the three of us - my grandmother Trini, my grandfather Silverio, and me. My grandparents were simple country people - a little reserved, but with big hearts. Closing my eyes, I see myself on one of the "trillos" that my grandfather made.

"Mom, I want us to buy this table. Have you realized that it looks like a magic carpet?" Jose's emotional voice brought me back to reality.

"Yes, I think we should. It will be wonderful to have it at home."

While the owner was writing the receipt and Jose was giving him our address, I was missing my grandfather. The many hours that we had spent together watching him work, hearing his stories, learning about his life, and admiring his spirit. He taught me about the importance of loving the land, about the beauty of each tree and stone. He always talked about how living in the country helped to shape his character, how the land gave to him the wisdom of centuries: patience, devotion, kindness, humility, respect. "The land", he said, "dirties your hands but cleans your soul. You should never forget this Almudena."

"Here is your receipt. We will deliver the table in two days."

"Thank you very much," I replied.

Driving the car, I headed towards my parents' home. I wanted Jose, like me, to grow up having experiences and moments with his grandparents. Our elders are our past, but also an incredible of source of wisdom to help us confront the future. There are constants in life - traditions to continue, customs to learn, experiences to share, and moments that should only be viewed through the eyes of a grandparent. That afternoon with Jose took me back to my childhood, and helped me to value again my past experiences. I am the sum of all those instances, and without any doubt, the summers spent with my grandparents are among my most cherished memories.