It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Madrid in August, and I’d forgotten how much of an adjustment one has to make to compensate for the small businesses that shut down.

Yesterday, I ran down to the mom and pop grocery store to get some bread for lunch — it was shuttered. I had Wasa crisp with my pisto and fried egg.

Today, I popped around the corner to have my eyebrows threaded — they’re looking like blonde caterpillars — and, yes, the salon was shuttered. Thank goodness I’m spending the weekend with a friend who’s always been a dab hand with tweezers!

From the local bar, to the florist, to just about every small business around, the conversation is, “When are you going on vacation? For how long?”

It reminds me of a long-ago August that I spent in Paris, house-sitting for Mme. C, and the panic that ensued when I realized that *none* of the shops I knew from my time living there were open in August. At least Chez Pitz had a sign indicating which nearby bakery was still turning out fresh loaves! (It used to be a law — don’t know if it still is — that bakers in a given neighborhood couldn’t all go on vacation at once, so as not to leave the locals bread-less. So reasonable!)

Of course, freelancers don’t have vacations, so I’ll be right here, creeping along in the heat with my wooly eyebrows and indifferent bread!