I am pleased to wake up to the rain in Porto today. For the last month I have been travelling with my husband. Costa Del Sol. Sevilla. Lisboa. The Algarve. Porto. We have bemoaned the rain on occasion. The plan was to travel in March, before the hoards of people flocked to Spain and Portugal but while the weather was nice. From our perspective, we have escaped many rainy days in Vancouver this Spring and the sun has shown her face. From the perspective of the Spanish and Portuguese in the south who have been experiencing a prolonged drought that has emptied reservoirs and devastated crops for the past two years, they have been surprised by the quantity of rain but appreciated it all the same.
Today I find myself appreciating the pitter patter of rain mixed with the sound of cooing doves. Our place in Porto has all of my necessities for early morning writing.
First is a space where I can venture off to write. We climb 66 stairs to get to the top of the building to get to our newly renovated suite. Double doors lead into the addition of a sunroom with a little table with two chairs and big windows. I can creep outside and write without waking up my husband. This means I am alone with my thoughts for the time being.
I had aspirations of writing in little cafes and outside this holiday. Perhaps it comes from the stories of Hemingway and J.K. Rowling drafting their manuscripts in interesting places. COVID has made me very aware of the struggle that café owners have had staying afloat in the past couple of years. I think twice about taking up prime real estate without spending much money. I have a vested interest in the survival of the coffee shop. So this is not a place for me to focus at this time.
We rented a car in Costa Del Sol. This was not conducive to writing. We flew from Sevilla to Lisbon. Then we took the train from Lisbon to The Algarve and from the Algarve to Porto. Even a city bus has traditionally been able to lull my husband to sleep. He has easily nodded off en route home from work over the years. Trains and planes allow for a good nap for Brad and guaranteed focused writing time for me.
I have written at the park. At the beach. At our family cabin. Lots of outdoor spaces over the years. I still do but outdoor writing lends itself more to journal writing. I have been reading “Writing down The Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. She strictly adheres to writing with a paper and pen, and hires someone to do the word processing. I cannot even imagine it. My computer has become how I write. My proofreading and editing is very much integrated with my thinking and drafting. Taking a screen outdoors means having a table set up or bringing a beach chair, hat, ensuring no light on screen, no danger of sand being kicked up. So much complexity. Writing outdoors on the deck at the cabin in the mountains or on my patio in Kits seem to be the outdoor writing spaces for me. This month, outdoors has been for reading far more than writing.
The second most important part of the morning writing ritual is coffee. Not just liquid caffeine. Good coffee. This has been included as part of four of the five places we’ve stayed during our travels this month. Only one place provided the standard Mr. Coffee drip coffee machine. This will not do for writing. The first sip in the morning must provide that “Oh, yeah. All is right with the world” kind of feeling.” Most places in Europe understand that. It still shocks me that people go to the local Starbuck’s. In Spain and Portugal! The best coffee I have experienced has been in Europe. Hhhmmm, and Cuba. High quality espresso machines are considered necessities rather than luxury items. Good coffee is around and inexpensive. And the best!
Danger. Three things are conspiring against extended writing time this morning. The rain has stopped and the sun has poked her head out. Yikes! Diversion. The rule in Vancouver is enjoy the sun when it comes out! Who knows how long she’ll stay! Two workmen have started to work on the suite across the way. So very close to me. Everywhere you go in Portugal, massive cranes and scaffolding obscure the view of art and amazing feats of historic architecture.. There is lots of work and lots of real estate sales, particularly in Lisbon and Porto.
The pigeons can peer in the window to check out what I’m doing and they feel like comfortable friends. They can even move right on to my window sill and peer in. The workmen’s eyes just feel more intrusive. Yes, I’ll need to go get dressed for the day. It will be a blog day. Perhaps, my novel writing will need to wait for the anonymity of the masses on the plane or my own little condo in Kits on a rainy day. I still have grand aspirations.