The season is in tear-down mode outside our windows with digits collapsing and clouds corroding, jack hammers on the wind. It all falls (ha!) tomorrow, and my daydreams are scrambling for an extension. Nothing sounds as wonderful right now as putting time on hold, loading up the car, and setting off for someplace new. In fact, why don’t we?
Let’s start with Barcelona at sunset. We don’t have much time before an overnight trek across Spain, but there are just enough moments of terracotta sunlight left to illuminate cranes and fruit baskets on the gaudiest cathedral conjured up by a mere mortal. We’ll try and soak up all the details but resign ourselves to head-scratching wonderment in the end. Even though we don’t mean to linger so late, it’s worth watching shades of sandstone cool to ghostly pewter, lit green from within like a witch’s stronghold. As our footsteps sizzle away on Catalan sidewalks, we erase Barcelona from our penciled-in dream list and rewrite it in pen.
Let’s drive now into the sunrise over endless fields of scrub brush, wending our way alongside modern-day pilgrims on old paths. Spain is only a means to an end this time, but we pass the miles by plotting future summers in Basque orchards and reminiscing about a nearly-disastrous layover in Madrid two years ago. Mountains suddenly sprout up through the earth, green and dizzying, and just like that, we’re in Portugal. They plunge back into the ground just as suddenly, and we’re finally there, where mountain river flows into ocean deep.
There is only one way we can possibly begin a stay in Porto, of course—set our alarm clock next to the towels and head to the beach on a morning breeze while magic still shimmers in the shallows. We’ll soak it up through the soles of our feet, saltwater packing it into our skin until even our fingertips thrill to its touch. Somehow, this translates into sand being flung like live grenades, but the resultant giggling recalls a long-lost truth: that getting grit under our nails and behind our ears is the purest kind of fun. There is nowhere else we need to go, so let’s run straight into the heart of incoming waves and then dash away again with foam-flecked surf nipping at our heels. If the only thing we do today is remember how to play, our souls will have reimbursed every travel expense a hundred times over.
If you care to join me next time, we’ll take a tour through the colorful riverfront and maybe even charm Sandeman into supplying the drinks. What do you say to a few more weeks of vicarious summer?