Writer Robin Graham travels north to León and captures the heartbeat of intimacy that travel often brings; all shrouded in the changing light of the León Cathedral.
By Robin Graham
We’re sitting side by side in a couple of armchairs, having a hopeful conversation – reveries of the year coming and the year past. It’s the kind of chat people often have when they’re away from home; journeys allow us to punctuate our lives and to make decisions and plans in a way that is more difficult back in the thick of our daily fuss. In that sense it’s a very typical kind of conversation – it will have been had by many, in many places. But the setting tonight is anything but typical.
Although we each look ahead, turning only occasionally to underline a point with eye contact or take the other’s hand, our armchairs are not positioned in front of a TV and nor are they arranged around a cosy fire. We’re not on some hotel terrace overlooking a valley or a pool. None of that.
We’re outdoors in the busy city at night, in a large square and our armchairs are near the middle of it. Where the TV should be, just a few metres from our feet, is the reason our seats can’t occupy the exact centre: the House of Light, otherwise known as Pulchra Leonina, otherwise known as Santa María de León, most commonly known, I suppose, as the León Cathedral.
The chairs are made of wrought iron and appear to be a work of public art, but built on a human scale which makes it clear (to us at least) that they are there to be used. They call it The House of Light because of the stained glass windows – many more of them than is usual – that bathe the interior with colour, but it could just as well have been because of the view we have now.
Illuminated, the Gothic masterpiece erupts from its 13th century roots on the great, open esplanade, the largest space in León’s old town, and shoots upward – every tower and turret, every detail embodying that rising motion – toward its 16th century conclusion: the towers and steeples that disappear above us into the black sky. Lit up like this, the grey edifice appears golden.
I’ve never had the opportunity to view a cathedral from an armchair before. All that’s missing is a bowl of nuts and a beer. Definitely the way forward.
Robin Graham writes about Andalusia, Spain and some other stuff. His stories can be found,with accompanying photography, at http://alotofwind.com/ He’s a private person but, strangely, doesn’t mind being followed : @robinjgraham or liked (on Facebook). Photography at http://robingraham.wix.com/de-la-luz#!portfolio