Granny brought herself to inspect the donkey facilities closely a day or two ago. It's all very neat, foodstore, shelter, closed stable; a manger even. A MANGER. All for the as yet (good) undonkey. It occurs to her that what she and Beloved have now got, really, is a wonderful setting for a Nativity play next Christmas, the kind of production which makes the audience as well as the actors walk about. With (BORROWED) donkey; of course. And even more definitely BORROWED camels. Lovely Nieves, friend and cleaner, and her beautiful but little husband would do nicely for Mary and Joseph. If they conceived it NOW - maybe Granny will ask them very nicely - they could even provide a baby to lay in the empty manger; otherwise the baby too will have to be borrowed; a crying baby doll WONT do.
How about her Beloved? Granny hesitates between giving him the role of Wise Man and ancient shepherd. Settles for ancient shepherd - probably. He can bring a lamb. Or two. Or even a kid. (Over Granny's dead body.... no room at the inn for goats either...) Possibly safer to make him a wise man then; gold, frankincense and myrrh don't require housing, let alone feeding. A thought. On the other hand, Beloved's seat on a camel? she has her doubts. Most ways, she doesn't wish him ill. Far from it.
Mr Handsome then? He's tall - the Angel Gabriel of course. If the roof of the stable doesn't hold? Well he made it didn't he? And if he doesn't seem sufficiently angelic, nor were the angels if you look very closely - or not in the sense you'f think applied to that word. Granny researched Gabriel and company in depth once for a book she was writing, and they turned out in some respects not very nice at all. Compared to them Mr Handsome is angelic, if you get her meaning.
What role for Granny then? No question, standing outside her furious house she will be shouting as the audience files past, down onto the land; 'NO ROOM AT THE INN.' Playing the innkeeper of course; or the inkeeper's wife; the spoilsport.
All round non animal agriculture proceeds apace. People are lifting their potatoes, their peas. In their place, they are making the little mounds from which in due course will appear the shoots of maize or sweet potatoes. They have two harvests here at least. They too bring gifts; more welcome than gold, frankincense or myrrh; Granny has a fridge full of unshelled peas; a cupboard full of potatoes. She offers marmalade in return, but doesn't rouse much obvious enthusiasm. The stripes, blocks, dots of green across the land continue to be delightful. Though the wind is as freezing as ever, it is sunny today for the first time for a week. Yesterday it rained. Her land looks edible.
That manger; it is so actual, so real, so maddening.....maddening? - Yes! Because in some ways it is so hopeful; almost sweet.