When I was small we didn’t have enough money to go out for vacation but one summer, a friend of my father let us his house in the Catalonian Pyrenees. And there we went. The owners only used the house in winter to go skiing. In summer they preferred to go to the beach.
The house was huge and very nice but it was located in a very small village called Urus, where the paved road came to an end. There was no way to go further by car. We didn’t have a car, anyway, so when we arrived and my father’s friend left us alone, we had to survive with what the forty villagers who lived there could offer us.
There was only one phone in Urus. We soon learned that the middle-aged lady who was in charge of the phone, was also the witch of the village. She was often called to ward off the bad spirits when somebody was sick or there were problems with the cattle.
I had never known a witch. I had in my mind the picture of the tales: An old lady toothless, with a big nose and a wart, stirring something in a large steaming cauldron. Nothing to do with the little smiling telephonist with its bright eyes and glasses, who was there knitting and waiting for customers.
Every evening my sister and I used to go to a nearby farm with our pitchers to get fresh milk. One day, the farmer who just had finished to milk his cows, opened the door of the barn and inside I saw the amulet to warn off the bad spirits: A dead owl nailed over some dry plant and a calendar.
I went back home terrified. It was a cruel amulet. But the farmers were sure that it worked.