Monday, May 29, 2006

Historic Preservation

One of the great charms of the molino is, of course, that it was a mill. An actual, functioning mill, complete with a massive, hulking millstone. A massive, hulking millstone in which shards of petrified corn husk--the precious sustenance of some hard-working Asturian peasant, indisputable evidence of some simpler, more bucolic life--can still be found. A massive, hulking millstone right where our kitchen table should go.

We have contemplated getting rid of the millstone ever since we bought the place because 1) it is way too big for the room it is in and 2) it leaves no space for a kitchen table. Yet we have lived with the millstone for all this time because 1) our albaniles assured us that it could not be removed without knocking out an exterior wall and 2) everyone who heard heard that we (okay, one of us) was considering removing the millstone reacted as if we had just casually suggested that the pages of a Gutenberg Bible might make good rolling papers. "Oh, but you can't do that," they would exclaim, aghast, yet condescending at the same time.

Well, we did. And before anyone calls in the goons from Patrimonio nacional, let me emphasize that the millstone has not been destroyed, just moved to the patio where it awaits reassembly.

After last year's summary rejection, Jose Maria has changed his mind. Today he showed up with the same crew as before (Calisto as jovial as ever, Borja having grown his hair so that he now looks vaguely like Fernando Alonso) plus an ill-tempered Eastern European who has apparently taken Borja's formerly abysmal spot on the totem pole. The four of them lifted the grinding stone out with little problem, but things got dicey when it came time to move the 500-kilo basin that holds the stone. They cut it from its cement moorings, and got it on a dolly, only to find that they could not then move the dolly. They tried putting down boards and rolling it out on crosswise logs, but that got them only as far as the front door. Eventually they tied a rope between it and the bumper of Calisto's truck, and with much pushing and pulling, got it across the patio.

Right now, there is a hole where the mill used to be. I like to think of it as the yawning chasm of progress.

No comments: