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Using literature to introduce others to Asturias
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Autor Mensaxe

Rexistrau: 24 Feb 2003
Mensaxes: 1745
Llugar: Connecticut and Massachusetts

MensaxePublicao: Dom Pay 16, 2008 12:40 pm    Asuntu: Using literature to introduce others to Asturias Responder citando

I just returned from a meeting of the Society for Literature and Science in Charlotte, North Carolina. My contribution, as at the 2006 conference in New York, was to read some of my fiction that deals with Asturian themes, places and characters.

Once again, the reaction was astounding. My 20 minute presentation led to my discussing Asturias, its language and culture with various others in attendance for an hour or so. The various postings of our members over the years have been extremely helpful to me.

Trans. Ana

Acabo de regresar de Charlotte (Carolina del Norte) de una reunión de la Society for Literature and Science. Mi aportación, al igual que durante la conferencia de 2006 en Nueva York, ha sido leer algún pasaje de mis escritos de ficción relacionados con temas, lugares y personajes asturianos.

Una vez más la reacción fue asombrosa. Los 20 minutos de mi presentacción nos llevaron a una charla sobre Asturias, su idioma y su cultura, por lo que otros participantes tuvieron que esperar casi una hora. Distintos comentarios de nuestros miembros durante todos estos años me han sido de gran ayuda.
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Site Admin

Rexistrau: 17 Feb 2003
Mensaxes: 4498
Llugar: Maryland

MensaxePublicao: Dom Pay 16, 2008 4:15 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Congratulations, Bob!
¡Enhorabuena, Bob!
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Barbara Alonso Novellino

Rexistrau: 22 Och 2003
Mensaxes: 324
Llugar: Long Island, New York

MensaxePublicao: Dom Pay 16, 2008 4:51 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

I would like to offer my Congratulations too!


Very Happy
Trans. Ana

¡Yo también quiero darte la enhorabuena!


Very Happy
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Eric Smith Fernandez

Rexistrau: 16 Set 2004
Mensaxes: 117
Llugar: Granite City Illinois

MensaxePublicao: Dom Pay 16, 2008 8:35 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

That's awesome, Bob.

You should publish your works if you haven't already. I would love to have something like that in my future classroom! I observed a middleschool teacher the other day, He had lots of books on spain and flags from the Basque country, and several fútbol clubs.

If you publish your works I would love to purchase them. The more resources the better.


Soy un estudiante. Quiero estar seguro de que estoy escribiendo bien Si alguien se da cuenta de los errores gramaticales míos en los mensajes ¿Me puede avisar?
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Rexistrau: 24 Feb 2003
Mensaxes: 1745
Llugar: Connecticut and Massachusetts

MensaxePublicao: Llu Pay 17, 2008 2:02 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Some of the people at the conference strongly urged me to publish what I have always written for my own amusement, and suggested possible publications and editors who would like what I write. I intend to follow up on that (I'm primarily interested in sharing rather than in profit).

I would be happy to share with you for your classes, but my overarching themes are love (including sex), death (sometimes not pretty) and time (touching on theology). This may not sit well with school boards. My wife has suggested that I am preoccupied with death, but writing about what is at the core of human existence is - for me at least - more fun that writing about dancing in the sunshine. If I dance, it will be at dusk, at night or at dawn, and tied to a long remembering of cultural history.

Some of the stories are quite dark. Of course, the Asturian language and culture, as well as Asturian myths and history, are equally important, although often manifest in nontraditional ways.

I often use an untranslated term or phrase in asturianu or castellano early in the story and then substitute an English equivalent later, in an effort to encourage people to be curious and to learn. Ever the professor, I guess.

If you like García Márquez, you will probably like my writing. He is the originator of magical realism, and has a certain playfulness with language that appeals to me on some deep level.

Caveat lector.
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Rexistrau: 18 Xun 2003
Mensaxes: 151
Llugar: Asturies

MensaxePublicao: Mie Xin 06, 2010 7:50 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Bob, is any of your tales available at asturian.us files?
I love the way you guys broadcast Asturian heritage. I have noticed that outsiders approach our culture in a more respectful and interested way than we ourselves do (I hope you don`t mind if I throw you into the "outsiders" cathegory, I am sure you know what I mean). It is wonderful to learn about your conference, about all those educated people in the US who want to know about our culture.

You wouldn`t believe how often, when talking about Asturian identity, the whole topic is dismissed as "parochial" ("aldeano") or "bumpkin stuff" ("paletada"). I have heard such opinions mainly from Spaniards but many Asturians have fallen for it as well. It`s some sort of soft self-hate. It takes foreigners` lack of prejudice to really overcome the old Madrid - centered prejudice.


Bob, pue atoapase dalgun de los tos cuentos nos cartafueyos d`Asturian.us?
Prestame abondo como espardis la herencia asturiana. Tengome decatao que los foriatos alleguense a la nuesa cultura d`un xeitu mas respetuosu ya con más curiuseza que nós mesmos (nun vos pareza mal que vos llante nos "foriatos", benseique atalantais el que quiero dicir). Ye ablucante saber de la to conferencia, saber de toes eses persones estudiaes nos Estaos Xunios que quieren saber mas de la nuesa cultura.

Nun vos dibeis creyer cuantes vegaes, de la que se fala de la identida asturiana, tiren dafechu tol asuntu como "aldeanaes" o "paletaes". Eses opiniones vienen sobre tou d`españoles pero tamien fonon a pensar asina abondos asturianos. Ye una triba sonce d`auto-terrecer. Fae falta la falta de prexuicios d´un estranxeru pa baltiar el prexuiciu Madrid-céntricu.
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Rexistrau: 24 Feb 2003
Mensaxes: 1745
Llugar: Connecticut and Massachusetts

MensaxePublicao: Mie Xin 06, 2010 12:52 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Mouguias, pa ti -

L'Arapientu - El Farrapientu - The Raggedy Man

"Una vegada.... once upon a time... there was a raggedy man." Obdulia was telling the story to her three great grandchildren as if it were a nursery rhyme and they listened with eagerness, but it was quite true. "He was an ancianu, a very old man, even older than I am, maybe older than death." She had seen him three times, once in her childhood, once in middle age two years before her mother died, and once just before her youngest great grandchild had been born. The last time, she had seen him remove something from a leather pouch around his neck and look at it in wonder, awash in a small and sorrowful rain.

The raggedy man rode in a cart that creaked even more than her voice, pulled by a very thin and very pale yellow horse, beyond skin and bone, almost transparent. Miercoles, just after Mass, and the sun's liquid warmth drenched the earth. Even in the brightest sunlight, the horse cast no shadow, but no living creature could bear to stand long where the shadow should have been. In the place of its shadow was something colder than death, an absence of all living things. Even the grass withered when the pale horse passed.

The raggedy man dressed in scraps of wool and linen and leather. He was even thinner than the horse, and in the bright sunlight some could see his teeth and bones through his white beard and cheeks, and watch the slow and silent beating of his heart. He appeared, always unannounced, only once every generation or so, and he traveled most of the world selling his wares. Despite the prodigious nature of his own memory - he had learned over three dozen languages and could describe in exquisite detail the similarities and differences between horros asturianos and the equivalent structures in distant Turkey - what he sold was forgetfulness.

His cart was full of small and exquisitely carved boxes wrought from carbayu wood and poplar, and filled with very small lenticular stones of every imaginable color gathered from morraines over all of Europe and Asia. Once, many years ago, he had ventured for five years into northern Africa, but found little but delightful fruit - and sand and bitterness. He had one very small box that was carved from garnet, and contained a tiny jet pebble. This he kept in a leather bag that hung from his neck and he showed it to no one. In the cart, under his feet, was an ancient and encrusted falcata. It had been forged from folded and hammered steel left to rust for three years in damp earth until only the sound parts remained, then reforged into a bright blade with a distinct and heavy forward curve, sharpened on the incurved edge, making the tip resemble a heavy sickle. Some said that he had once been the first down the mountain after the rain of rocks and earth, and had cut a man in half with his first blow, that he had fought at Pelayo's side and slain more than a dozen moros in that battle. He remembered only that his shoulders had screamed as the blade cut and chunked and juddered through flesh and sinew and living bone, and that afterward he vomited and then shivered all night, unable to sleep. After all these years, he still could not sleep when the moon was dark. But he could remember, which was in itself beyond mere horror. No one, of course, could possibly be that old. The truth was that he and the horse had simply grown old enough to pass beyond time and death.

Every dark moon, he awoke with a start from what passed as sleep and cleaved the air with the falcata until he half realized where he was and whom he was, and almost remembered that his wife and children had died and that he was alone except for the horse. But he remembered that the xana had been pale and warm and soft and yielding, and that they had stayed together for almost half a year, and that she had offered no gold or other treasure save her unfathomable love and her understanding. All he had to give her were his memories. She had ravaged his open soul and felt his pain and shared the memory of returning home to nothing but charred wood mixed with small bones.

When he left, she wept but she gave him only a small black stone - azabache - and a deep secret. "Place the stone under your tongue and remember. Every part, every detail. You will feel your memories fade into the stone."

"What memories should I lose?' he asked.

"Whatever hurts the most." She kissed him and he felt one last time her teeth like razors, and she turned away forever.

"The last time I saw him," Obdulia told her great grandchildren, "he was in the cementerio de Samartín de Podes, in front of a small and very old grave with six names carved into the stone, too weathered to be read, and weeping because he could not remember whose graves they were or why he was there, or why for all these long years he had carried a small black pebble in a garnet box."
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Rexistrau: 24 Feb 2003
Mensaxes: 1745
Llugar: Connecticut and Massachusetts

MensaxePublicao: Mie Xin 06, 2010 1:00 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Un otru pa Mouguias -

The Death Shop

Ochubre. Some of the trees were beginning their annual death, and had shrouded themselves in warm hues, yellows and rust and brilliant crimson, awaiting spring's warm and eternal green rebirth, all celadon and jade. The pines quietly wore their somber dark green, fat with buds that would burst forth in the spring. A warm sea breeze kissed the land and its inhabitants.

Celorio de la Vega Díaz was content. His ability to catch fish provided tasty meals as well as sufficient income for his wife and family, even if his children chose not to work. He had at long last rented his grandparents' ancient cottage near the long sandy beach, and with the first month's rent he had purchased a fine pig, acorn fed and fat, which he and his cronies had slaughtered only a week ago while sharing a bottle of coñac. An ancient and thin-bladed cold iron knife, honed to a razor's edge on local stone, had slit the throat easily and–as far as he could tell–without pain, although the animal had squealed in panic at being held down. Within a minute or two, its struggles had stopped, it had been hoisted by its hind feet, and its blood had been caught in a copper basin held by his wife Laura, and already incorporated into a fine morcilla with onions. The xamones had been rubbed with sea salt and hung to dry. The lacon and tocino had been duly salted and smoked. The fat had been rendered into lard. Laura had roasted half of one of the pork loins in fresh goat milk, and had given the other half to a widowed neighbor with seven small children and two parents to feed. Most of the rest had been coarsely chopped, mixed with salt, garlic, paprika and guindilla, and stuffed into the intestines, which had first been cleaned of all flesh and carefully washed. The autumn-hued chorizos had been smoked long and slow over an apple wood fire, then packed in hot melted lard against the winter's need. Just this morning, his wife had fried two of them until they bled orange fat, then fried two fresh eggs in the fat and served it all to him with a piece of boroña, a small glass of brandy, café con leche and a churro, Life was good. Life was as it should be. Life was for him what most of his ancestors never had, but always longed for.

Celorio had spent the afternoon fishing in his small open boat. He pulled it onto the sandy shore just as the sun began to sink, gathered the day's catch of dorada and besugo, and decided to walk past his grandparents' house on the way to his own. A new sign caught his eye, black letters on a pure white board hung over the door: "Deaths," it announced, "Se Vende Muertes." Startled, he regarded the small house with care. It had been painted the same chalk white as the sign, and the red tile roof and a broken window had been repaired. Smoke from an oak fire drifted from the chimney. The house had taken on an aura of snug coziness that belied the starkly simple message of the sign. He recalled the woman who had rented it, a young widow he had thought, very pale and a little fey, with light brown hair and luminous grey-green eyes. Her daughter, more or less four years old, had güeyos nidios and hair the color of autumn corn. They both spoke with a strange, outlandish accent, not quite vaqueiro and not quite gallego, but rich with falling diphthongs, soft sibilants, and antiquated expressions, as if they had somehow become displaced in time. Impulsively, he walked to the door and knocked. After a long pause, it opened. The child....

"Güenes tardes, I thought that you and your mother might like some doradas. Please give this to her." He handed four fine specimens, fresh eyed and gleaming in the fading light, their heads flecked with gold, to the girl. She stared at him with clear dead eyes. He noticed for the first time a livid scar on her right foot, and that she had limped when she moved toward him to take the fish.

"Gracias a Diós y a ti," she whispered.

"What happened to your foot?"

"Una guadaña." A soft cloth curtain rustled, and the pale woman entered the room.

"Gracias, señor. Una copita?" He had not noticed before but now, Christ Jesus, the mother was so achingly beautiful that he felt an actual physical pain. She produced a small glass and a bottle of home-made opalescent distillation, pale violet, almost without color. He accepted the drink and swallowed, feeling the burn in his innards. It tasted of beech and anise, of galangal and saffron, and of springtime and lost love. In that small moment, he fell hopelessly and depressingly in love with a woman he could never hope to have, forgetting his own wife of 38 years and his six children and eleven grandchildren. He felt his eyes begin to fill with tears. It was difficult even to breathe. He wanted her naked body more than he had ever before wanted anything. He wanted to make her pant and squeal with pleasure, as he and his wife had done to each other as far back as they could remember. He wanted to hear her voice every day, when he awoke and when he fell asleep, and even on his deathbed. Most of all, he wanted her self, her presence, her warmth, her strange familiarity. God help him, what he wanted most of all from her was something he could never comprehend.

One small thought made him aware of ice in his bones. He remembered that once, for eleven days after being blown out to sea, when the sky turned blacker than a blind man's night, he had prayed only that he would not die of thirst or fear. La galerna eventually swept him ashore at Celorio, and he bore that nickname for the rest of his life. Few remembered that he had once been called Gabriel With this woman, he thought without realizing it, he would never again fear death.

The next afternoon he left seven besugos at their door. The next, a basket of camarones.. Then pulpo and mexillones. Then pixín, with the huge and ugly heads still intact. Then merluza. Then.... This continued for three weeks. In the end, when he tried to leave a basket of fish at the door, it opened and the pale woman spoke.

"Why are you doing this?"

"Doing what?"

"Leaving us fish every day. We appreciate it, but we do not need it, and we have nothing to give in return."

"I want nothing in return, only to share with you and your daughter." His eyes dropped momentarily to her breasts.

"Thank you, but we need nothing."

His heart raced. He wanted nothing more than to talk with this woman, to join her to him in any way he could. A shadowed part of his mind, now a thing apart from him, remembered the sign over the door.

"I am curious. You cannot really sell deaths, can you?. That would be murder."

"Not in the way you think. Murder is wrongful death, and God would not allow us to sell that. He merely allows us to arrange them. Their method, their timing, their meaning. No more than one to a customer, if you wish to bargain for your own." She smiled. Her pupils were open so wide that her eyes looked like black holes in the midst of the ocean's storm. He felt drawn in and lost.

"I don't understand. This is not possible."

"Why not? It is really very simple. For example, next Tuesday just after noon the sacerdote will die, struck by lightning. His own illegitimate son arranged it in a fit of anger. But it is and has been God's will that he die on that day. After all, how could a mere child and a woman arrange lightning from out of nowhere? But I assure you that he would die at that exact moment even if we had never intervened. In this case, he would have drowned while fishing, swept from a rock at La Peñona by a rogue wave."

"How can anyone know these things? It is not possible."

"And how can you find fish that you cannot see in the black waters deep below the waves?"

"That's different. I know where to fish. I am a fisherman, and I have fished these waters all my life, and my father and grandfather before me. They taught me where to fish, where to drop my hooks, what to use for bait, where to set my nets."

"And how is that different from what we do?"

"Killing people is a sin. What right does any man have to arrange deaths?"

"Please listen this time. We do not kill. We simply make the arrangements. The details. And by the way, as you know from staring at my breasts, I am not a man. I am a woman."

"Or any woman." He blushed and was beginning to grow angry, afraid that he was beginning to believe that she and the child could indeed arrange deaths.

She sighed. "Do the fish die when you catch them?"

"Of course, but they are fish, not humans. And they would die anyway, eaten by other fish or crashed onto the rocks in a storm, or from some fishy pestilence."

"And do their deaths serve a good end? Do they not help sustain our own lives. Could you feed your family without their deaths? Do you not decide whether to take merluzas by net or a pinchu? Does it make any difference to the fish?"

Celorio was stunned, and did not answer. He simply turned and walked back to his own home. But he could not erase the image he had created, not one of death but of the pale woman sweating in bed as he stroked her body, both of them moaning with pleasure, her fingernails raking his back. He did not make love to his wife that night. Nor the next. Nor the one after.....
Martes dawned warm and pleasant, with a light wind and clear blue sky and all-pervasive salt sea scent. The colors of the sea, the sand, the rocks, the trees and the precipice were all preternaturally clear under the sun's watchful white eye. Celorio, oblivious to the reason, decided to stay in the village rather than to spend the day on the water. Yesterday's catch was the best he had had in many weeks. Not a cloud, he thought, not a single cloud. The blue of the sky had a depth that could be sensed even by a blind man. When he closed his eyes, the landscape did not alter, but remained perfectly clear, as if his eyelids were made of flawless glass. He bought a bottle of cider, a small piece of gamoneu and a loaf of bread at the taverna, and walked just past La Peñona to a small cove lined with multicolored pebbles. A cave, worn through the rock by many slow centuries of waves, connected the pebble beach to a small sandy strip. It was low tide, and he crabwalked though the cave, sat on the beach, and began to eat and drink. He found that he could not stop thinking about the strange pale woman's grey-green eyes, and how much he wanted to possess her, to make love to her. She disturbed him a great deal, but he wanted her more than he wanted anything else. His penis began to grow firm, and he imagined himself groaning with pleasure as she writhed under him, panting and sweating and just a little crazy with lust. What he did not know was that even more than he wanted to possess her, he wanted her to possess him.

For just a moment the sky flashed pure blinding white, and he was almost deafened by a loud crash of thunder. Dropping the last of his cider, he stooped and ran through the cave, scrapping his back against the rock, and exited bleeding. A body, newly dead, lay on the beach. The head was still smoking from the lightning strike. The sacerdote, fishing pole still in hand, twitched once or twice although he was already quite dead. There were still no clouds in the sky. The child stood very near the corpse. Her face and eyes were immensely calm, bereft of any emotion whatsoever except a deep sadness. His heart melted. He picked her up, crushed her small face into his shoulder, and began to run toward his grandparent's house, where he would find the pale mother with her haunted eyes. The child pushed her face free with surprising strength, just as he began to pound on the door. After a long delay, the pale woman appeared.

"Talk to the child," he told her, gasping for breath, "Comfort her. She has just seen the priest die, struck by lightening."

"She has seen death before. It does not upset her. She accepts it as a necessary part of life. And so do I."

"Why are you not concerned about the welfare of your daughter. No child should see what she has seen."

"She is not my daughter."

"Not your daughter...?"

"No. And she is not a child. We see what we choose to see. If anything, I am the child."

"And she is your mother!" His sarcasm was beginning to show.

"No. She is much to old to be my mother."

"Who is she then?"

"You would not believe me if I told you."

"Who is she if she is not our child" He corrected himself immediately, for he had already begin to think of her that way, "your child." Are you holding her captive? Are her parents looking for her? If so, you have done a terrible thing. Tell me, who is she."

The pale woman, weary, sighed and answered: "She is a cherub."

"No, she is a child. Cherubs look like children with white feathered wings. I have seen paintings of them. She has no wings, no feathers. Why are you lying to me?"

"Cherubim," she corrected quietly, "look nothing at all like what you think they do."

"Tell me, or I will bring the authorities to question you. Who is she."

"Bring them, then. We have done nothing wrong. In any event, they will not believe you."

"Who is she?"

"Please, leave us alone."

"Who is she," he demanded.

The pale woman sagged, weary of the conversation although undefeated. This was not worth the contest, and she no longer wished to protect him, an old man who lusted after her and in whom she had no interest whatsoever. "Look at her and then quickly close your eyes."

Celorio turned his eyes toward the child. She was small and fey, with strange eyes and soft yellow hair that he wanted to stroke again and again. He blinked his eyes shut briefly. A flutter of white wings. He stared at the child, then closed his eyes again, this time leaving them closed, and saw a cherub. An epiphany. A line from scripture took possession of his mind, and he could not rid himself of it for month and a half: "more terrible than an army with banners." The cherub was enormous, as if a lion, a bull, an eagle, and a woman had all fused into something that towered over him–four times taller than a man. Against all reason, it could not possibly fit into the room, yet it was there. A mere image of the cherub carved into the gates of Nineveh could keep out--indeed had kept out--a host of armed invaders. His bladder threatened to empty itself. He began to sweat, suddenly chilled beyond imagining. When he opened his eyes, however, he could see only a child. A small child at that, with clear eyes and a foot half crippled by a scythe.

"For God's sake, woman, who is this child?"

The pale woman looked at him directly and for a very long time without speaking, as if considering whether or not to be truthful. Her gaze continued, and she did not blink. He began to shiver and felt violated. In the end she answered truthfully, simply and directly.

"A cherub," she said and her voice fell to a whisper, "the angel of death."
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Rexistrau: 24 Feb 2003
Mensaxes: 1745
Llugar: Connecticut and Massachusetts

MensaxePublicao: Mie Xin 06, 2010 1:05 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Y un otru -

The Gold Shop

Gold. Ten months after nursing the xana back to health, Aurelia and Xuan opened their shop near La Peñona, at the western end of the beach in Salinas. They had waited over two months for the sign to arrive from Avilés. It was painted a deep sapphire blue and bore a painting of a xana. When it was finally delivered and mounted over the door of their tiny grocery, the gilt letters read simply:

Gold and Happiness
Old and New
Bought and Sold

Early on a Tuesday in xineru, just as the sun peeked over the cliff, they swept the store clean and opened for business. Gold of all kinds gleamed in new wooden bins. Some, hidden under a piece of old goat leather, was paler than the sun, almost white, and could not be viewed directly without risking blindness and pain. Some, redder than blood, was gold from a pirate's hoard, dearly bought with murder and suffering, and awaiting its chance to purge itself of sin. There was gold of every hue, there were nuggets of every description. Some had been wrought into large scales, as if it had been harvested from a cuélebre, and had an oily gleam. Some had been fashioned into foreign coins with strange and inscrutable inscriptions. Some, stolen from the Inca high in the Andes, had been wrought into glistering maravedis, long before the coin degenerated into mere silver, and filled a large wicker basket. There were pure yellow nuggets the size of a woman's fist. There was gold sand of mixed colors, finer and smoother than powdered silk. There was gold so pure that it could not be handled without melting, and--if placed in one's mouth--left a buttery taste and a satisfaction so deep that one could not eat for a week. There were enormous lumps of dull gold that seemed to have no weight at all, but had been whipped to a frothy foam and frozen by some dark subterranean force. Gold the color of xirasoles. Gold with the color and scent of saffron. Gold like flax. Gold like the sun. Gold paler than death. And–in a jar rather than a bin–gold so thoroughly mixed with the grace of God that it was no longer at all solid or even liquid. If the cork were released, it would fill the room with a choking, shimmering cloud.

For three days, no one entered. Perhaps no one felt a need to buy or sell gold. Perhaps the aldeanos thought the sign was little more than a jest or lie, but gold there was awaiting sale, although Aurelia and Xuan had not enough money to purchase even one shining silver maravedí. As they were about to close the shop and return upstairs to their home for a midday meal of bread and dried home-made chorizo, the door opened, flooding the store with cold air, a pale grey Friday light and the sound of a fine rain washing the earth. Miguel Ángel Fernández Alonso entered. He was seven years old and clutched two coins in his small hand. He had an ancient leather bag on his belt. He stood silent for a long moment, then finally summoned the courage to speak.

"I wish to buy gold for my parents." he said, "They are poor and have no gold. But if I they had gold we would no longer be poor and we could be happy. We could buy a pig and feed it chestnuts and acorns until payares, then slaughter it and make chorizos and xamón."

"Happiness is worthy goal for a young man. How much would you like?" replied Aurelia, with a gently mocking seriousness.

"Whatever I can buy for these two coins."

She smiled warmly. "Copper coins. They will buy enough to fill your bag. Choose what you want. There is freshly mined gold from Picos de Europa. There is gold from a xana's hoard. There is gold that once ransomed captive Christians in Jerusalem. There is straw yellow gold so soft it can be cut with teeth, deep red gold from the center of the earth, and gold the color of a summer day, which is so pure that it cannot bear a human gaze without melting. There is...." She paused, a long pause. "Just look behind you. It's all there in the bins. Look and feel and taste and smell and choose what you like, choose what pleases you. Fill your bag and give me the two coins."

The boy fingered nuggets from two different bins, fascinated by the one that melted like ice, coating his hand with gold purer than a baby's innocence. He could not resist the urge to lick it, and found that it was greasy and faintly sweet. "This one," he said softly, "It is very beautiful." He wiped the heavy melt on his shirt.

"It is beautiful indeed. You are a fine judge of gold for one so young. Use the scoop or it will soil your hands and your clothes. When you get home, leave it in the sun for an hour or two and it will no longer melt."

The boy filled his bag, paid the coins, and left.

The next morning when they opened the shop, four people were already waiting. One paid four riales for a small basket of bronzy gold that smelled of rich vanilla. A husband and wife had no money at all, but bartered six baskets of charcoal for six baskets of gold that felt warm even in the chilly air. They took it Uvieu, and sold it to become instantly and immensely wealthy. With their profits, they bought a large farm on the cliff's edge overlooking Salinas, and hired others to work it. The last, a young woman of sixteen, had nothing at all. Aurelia and Xuan took pity on her.

"Probe rapaza. Take what you want. You can pay us when you can."

She chose pale yellow gold that had a faint violet tint when viewed at an angle to the sun. It smelled vaguely of lust, and sounded a haunting progression of minor chords and augmented fifths when tumbled about. She returned the next day in a new dress and gave them six riales. She was followed by over three dozen others, some from Muros and Raices and even Podes in Gozón, across the river. Each night, by torchlight, lighters from an enormous black ship refilled the shop with gold. Each day the number of purchasers grew, until there was a line waiting long before dawn.

On the seventeenth day the shop came to the attention of the authorities. Six mounted soldiers, led by a very young lieutenant, arrived before dawn on grey horses, seated in creaking leather saddles with spurs and sabres all a-jingle. The lieutenant dismounted, strode to the door, and pounded on it with a heavy and pretentious fist. The sun had not yet risen, but the eastern sky was magenta and gold.

The lieutenant knocked again. There was no reply. "Abre esta puerta!" he demanded, and continued to hammer the wooden planks. After a very long wait, the door opened. "What do you want," asked Xuan, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"You have been selling gold at far less than its value. This must stop."

"Can we not sell what is ours as we wish?"

The young lieutenant hesitated–it was difficult not to agree--then resumed his role of arbitrary authority. "Gold is a measure of the king's commerce. It must not be debased or devalued."

"Look in the bins. Is the gold not beautiful? Would you enjoy owning some? For God's sake, just take what you want and go away. We are sleepy."

"You cannot do this. If everyone had gold, it would be worth nothing. The rich would no longer be rich and the poor would no longer be poor. This would be an outrage. What you are doing is a violation of the king's will and God's law."

"And do you serve only the interests of the rich...?"

"I serve the interests of God and the king."

"Does the king have gold?"

"Of course."

"Is he not happy with his gold?"

The lieutenant hesitated again. "How should I fucking know? I am a soldier. I simply do what I am told to do. All I know is that he has more gold than I do."

Xuan yawned. "Then take all the gold and give it to the king and tell him that we wish for his happiness. Or keep it for yourself. We will refill the bins tomorrow. It is, after all, nothing more than gold. It grows in the gentle earth, like truffles or slime mold or worms. There is always more. Good souls can appreciate it for what it is, for its beauty. We are simply trying to make a decent living, exchanging gold for riales, which can buy many things. Please, take what you want and leave us alone."

The lieutenant was stunned. He ordered the shop closed, and posted three soldiers by the front door to assure that it would not open that morning. Nevertheless, he ordered the gold loaded into his saddlebags until his small grey asturcón nickered and groaned with the weight. The gold filled the saddlebags of the soldiers, and there was still left much more than they could possibly hope to carry. The young lieutenant and three soldiers, now afoot and leading six heavily laden horses, returned to Avilés. Three more soldiers remained outside the shop and told all who arrived that it was closed by order of the authorities.

Xuan and Aurelia shook off sleep, intercepted the contents of the lighters, and scattered the gold on the damp sand, just above the high tide mark. On the way back to their bed, they told the baker, who told the blacksmith and six fishermen and three old women, who told many others that there was gold on the beach for the taking, and that Aurelia and Xuan asked only that those who helped themselves leave them whatever price they thought it was worth at the church of Samartín. Less than half paid anything at all. Still, by the end of the day they were very wealthy indeed. By the end of the week, they could have bought a title. By the end of the month they could have bought and sold the principality. Instead, they gave their riales and bartered goods to the poor, and kept for themselves only what they needed to live.

They bought a pig, which turned out to be pregnant, and delivered six strapping piglets, all white with black feet and legs and ears. They kept two, a male and a female, and gave the rest to their neighbors. In the fall, they slaughtered the original sow, whom they had named Rosario. After murmuring an apology, and placing a handkerchief over her eyes (they had named her, after all) before stunning her with a heavy hammer; they hoisted her by her hind legs with a rope hung from a carbayu limb, and cut her throat. The blood drained into an ancient iron pot, so old that it was rumored to have come from a time when women first began to outlive men. Half the blood they kept for themselves and made fine morcilla with onions. Half they gave to their neighbors, newly arrived from the mountains, who had strange customs, even to the point of putting rice in their morcilla. They also shared the meat with several of their neighbors. Some of the pork and fat they cut into small cubes with a new iron knife from Taramundi, mixed it with salt and pepper and red pepper and even more garlic than they thought they could stand, and stuffed it into intestines that had been cleaned of all flesh and carefully washed. It smoked for days in the chimney over their cooking fire, and was eventually packed in melted lard, rendered from the same pig, for a long winter's use. The smell of chorizos, lacon and tocino, all smoking over fires of applewood and oak, filled the air and mixed with the scent of the ocean's fog. The pigs prospered and multiplied.

As the pigs multiplied so did the gold. It appeared on the beach each morning, unloaded at night from the great black ship. When the soldiers returned and stationed pickets every 25 meters along the beach, the gold arrived by pack mule from Arnau, past Samartín de Laspra and down the narrow cliff road. When the soldiers watched the cliff road, the gold came by wagon from the road to San Xuan de Nieva. By the time that no family in the aldea had fewer than a dozen pigs, Fernando Balbuena Arriaz had filled his horreo with so much gold that one of the supporting pegollus collapsed into crumbled stone, and his gold spilled across the narrow path into his neighbor's garden. He did not bother to retrieve it. There was more gold for the taking each day. Eventually, the soldiers stopped coming.

As their pig herds grew, the aldeanos began to sell their chorizos in Avilés and even in Pravia. Many bought land with their profits, and raised more pigs and vegetables. They no longer knew what to do with the gold. Some they simply kept. Some--some that was especially beautiful--they used to cover the altars at Samartín and other churches, or hired goldsmiths to fashion into earrings and patens and chalices. Some they sent to Madrid or Rome or Jerusalem, with instructions to give it to the poor. Some they used to weight their nets or as ballast in their fishing boats. In the end, no one wanted the gold. The deliveries gradually stopped, to the relief of one and all.

Aurelia and Xuan had long ago removed the sign from their cottage, and devoted their energy to raising pigs. They became enormously prosperous and sent three sons--each with a small private army and ships laden with canon--to the New World to seek their fortunes. Eventually, the elder two returned brokenhearted, having been able to find huge quantities of gold wrought into useful and beautiful objects, but unable to find anything worth having for its own sake. The third, Francisco, married an Aymara woman, learned a new and strange language that always remained thick on his tongue, and settled into a comfortable life of raising pigs and making chorizos and xamones. He never returned until his wife and child died after three miserable days of ague and vomiting and shaking fever. When he did return, he brought nothing with him except their bones and three feathered robes, each worth more than a life. He buried the bones and robes in the cemetery at the dark of the moon and returned to raising pigs.
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MensaxePublicao: Llu Xin 11, 2010 12:22 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

"The Gold Shop" is an interesting story, Bob. It offers an unusual perspective. Thanks for sharing it.

I was charmed by Aurelia's name (Aur*, aure*, auri* are latin for gold.)

I wondered what "riales" were?

It's odd that my dictionary says maravedí were copper, but online there are references to silver ones, too.


"La tienda de oro" es una historia interesante, Bob. Se ofrece una perspectiva inusual. Gracias por compartirla.

Estaba encantado por el nombre "Aurelia" (Aur *, aure*, auri * son latín para oro.)

Me preguntaba sobre qué eran "riales"?

Es curioso que mi diccionario dice que un maravedí era de cobre, pero en línea, hay referencias a los de plata, también.
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MensaxePublicao: Mie Xin 13, 2010 6:39 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

Yeah, "Cien Años de Soledad"! Your tales remind me much of Marquez`s fantasy.
The one I enjoyed most was the one about the warrior who stood by the grave, tortured by the oblivion that he himself had chosen. Maybe it is just that I like too much the subject, warriors and ancient history and all. Anyway, you managed to show the very depth of history, the burden of all those centuries, all those battles and feats right under our feet.

If you allow me, "Happiness is worthy goal for a young man. How much would you like?" doesn`t sound too Asturian. Here, people would rather say something like "Good for you, kid. How much do you want?"
Blunt people, we are Wink
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MensaxePublicao: Mie Xin 13, 2010 9:53 pm    Asuntu: Responder citando

I love Marquez's writing and have read it all, and actually teach some in one of my classes - Evolution In Biology and Literature. "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings."
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MensaxePublicao: Llu Feb 15, 2010 9:36 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Me encantaría entender lo que escribe Bob!
Art, me podrías traducir uno de los cuentos o es mucho pedir? Mientras prometo estudiar ingles, please! Rolling Eyes
Thank you! Delia
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MensaxePublicao: Mie Feb 17, 2010 2:41 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Hola, Delia,
Me costaría mucho tiempo hacerlo. He escrito a Bob. A ver si él quiere traducirlo. (Como el escritor, sería mejor si lo hará.)

Tenemos un traductor nuevo. Tal vez sea interesado. Recuérdame si Bob no lo hace.

Hi, Delia,

It'd take me a lot of time to do that. I've written to Bob. Let's see if he wants to translate it. (As the author, it'd be better if he did it.)

We also have a new translator who might be interested. Remind me if Bob doesn't do it.
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MensaxePublicao: Mie Feb 17, 2010 8:22 am    Asuntu: Responder citando

Hola, Art! Me imaginé! Bueno te agradezco igual, esperaré y...sino tendré que ponerme con el diccionario en mano a ver qué puedo hacer!!! Laughing
Cariños! Delia
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