Bachkovo Lovin’

When the ache to get out of the city grew too large in my heart, I stuffed a backpack full of warm things and put myself on the bus to Bachkovo – so close and yet a world away. Arriving for sundown – steep slopes still green through the autumn rust, peaks wearing just a sprinkling of snow – I wandered through the village… wood-fire smoke, over-ripe grapes, exposed brick, barking dogs, and the powerful constant roar of the mountain torrent. Across it, the path up to the Monastery…

As the stalls close and day-visitors file out, I sign in and am shown to my room. Prepared for a “monks” night, with sleeping bag, best socks, thermos and all, I am shown into a warm space with linen, towels, blankets, heater, bathroom… umm!? Then ushered down to the dining room – a cosmic art-deco chapel with star studded blue sky and angels flitting about in the clouds. I eat alone, it being barely past 5pm, and note that all the food is mushy. I think of tooth-less jaws masticating beneath great white beards. Roast pepper paste, chicken broth and sweet semolina.

Called outside by sung prayers, standing still for ages in the courtyard beside the laden persimmon tree, listening, imagining a circle of monks, a private ritual echoing out into the weight of the now moonlit valley… I eventually realize that the chants are amplified throughout the complex and that the ceremony happening just inside the chapel is open to all. I take my cue and light a couple of candles for the dead as it happens to be Arhangelova Zadushnitsa, All Souls Day. Plain clothes mingle with robed monks (yes, bearing great white beards) and relay, prayer upon prayer, in beautiful earthy voices, of which I understand nothing. Soul to soul, then!

Dawn, and the cluster of white doves sleeping on the chapel roof stirs. Still no one out as I fill my gourd with icy spring water and begin the ascent towards… the awesome. (Not without take-away coffee from the machine by the hotel to wash down my walnuts and goji berries mind you!) A lone man and his dog reflect my morning contentment. We soak in the colors together, already amplified by a potent blue sky. Ground frozen hard, boots crunch over white grass to reach latent blackberries, swollen with autumn rain and eternally tart. The valley below is golden, the ridges above, abrupt and crumbly. Cold knees. Wide eyes. Happy heart.

I scaled the flank of a mountain in search of some sun. Found some. Nested there for hours, in the wild thyme and sang with the birds. It’s called Bachkovo Lovin’

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2 thoughts on “Bachkovo Lovin’

  1. You write so well I feel I am there with you, your gorgeous voice with lush layering calls me to assend into the mountains and join you. xxx Aroha

  2. Wow, its amazing to realise how familiar you must be with these melodies, harmonies and time signatures to be able to create a song using them yourself! I love it. We are having a great time back here learning and polishing More Sokol Pie and Polegnala, after performing Malenka and Dilmano a couple of months ago 🙂 Thank you for introducing me to this magical world xxx

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