The heat was such that we decided to spend the evening in what used to be the shed. And even though it has been renovated, it continues to be a small space, narrow and dark, its stone walls a meter and a half thick. We were cool, lit, and lying on top of the bed: I with a book and her with the magazine of memory exercises that she can read a thousand times because, as she says, she forgets what she reads in three minutes. Barely any light gets in the shed, and it is so insulated that in summer it resembles a small fridge.
Suddenly the bell rang, and when I stepped into the patio to open the gate, the light of day was comprised of golden dust and the air was filled with the ash of pinetrees. My neighbor, who today had brought with her a bag of eggplants and beets from her vegetable garden, said, «The hillock above the church is burning.» And I thought, «Well, thank goodness you rang because we could have been in the shed until nightfall without realizing that anything was going on.»
Maruxa and I decided to go out to see what was going on (as if we could do something about it!). I left with the robe I had on, and she said she needed to go well dressed because «surely, there will be many people up there.» We went up to the church, saw the disaster from afar, and at the moment that the wind changed and smoke filled our space, we decided to return to our small bunker because we almost couldn’t breathe.
The scene repeats itself each summer. The name of the village, the district, or the hill changes, but the facts remain the same. Ourense burns, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. It burns systematically. And today, when we are all concerned about the outbreaks of COVID-19, we have to add to our list of worries the outbreaks of fires that will overrun the land all summer long and that will continue being that other virus that will not let us breathe and for which we also have no vaccine..