(first published April 2)
There are different ways to get up and down from the woods from town. Mostly you have to go through the borgo, the oldest part of the village, and from there, take one of the three or four steep rocky trails. Today I come from a different part of town and take the path across the scrubby hillside, then up through olive groves, mainly abandoned, and through chestnuts, to where, at the head of a deep crevice, that trail intersects another. I can either continue up the old stone footpath to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Madonna of Monte Carmelo (a roughly three hour uphill hike), or I can return to the heart of town through the borgo. I’ve never gotten all the way up to the shrine on foot and today doesn’t seem like the day for it, however fine a day it is.
Returning through the borgo, I meet Pasqualina in a warm patch of sun on the steps that run past her home.
We wake surrounded by white mountains. It’s snowed in the night but the valley stays green. We learned yesterday that there is a plan to start again, to re-open, piano piano (little by little) beginning, aptly, just after Easter; and we learned that it may be too soon or too late, depending on whether you are listening to people of science or to people who’ve waited long enough and have nothing left to live on.
We see that in some places it’s so much worse and are both horrified and grateful.
Deeper in the south there is unrest; the out-of-work petty criminals are getting hungry.
A few weeks ago I posted a drawing of this boy, done from photo references taken 3 years ago when I got the chance to meet him. He was 7 at the time. When I drew him recently,
I’d been trying to decide between two possible compositions for the painting his dad commissioned. For the second option, this final painting, I’d used current photo references. His father couldn’t decide which one I should paint either.
Pick the one that would give you the most joy to paint, he told me.
(A series of personal observations recorded as Italy takes action against the spread of Covid-19, first published March 30, 2020)
We begin our fourth week of a nationwide lockdown. The other night our Prime Minister addressed the biggest question we all have with humility and honesty: I don’t know. I don’t know when we can return to “normal”, when the restrictions will be reduced. We’re working every day to understand the situation.
I’ve settled into this as best I can, as most everyone has by now.
In contemplating this near-global pause, I’m toying with this question today:
The silence wakes me at 6:30am. I think, it must not be 6:30 yet.
It wakes me again at 8am and I think, no it can’t yet be eight. I stay awake in the dark room listening.
Finally, I get up and go into the living room where the morning sun, reflected off the buildings across from us in the piazza, brings brightness into the room through our large french doors.
It’s as if it’s snowed in the night and everything is covered by a hush, by white, except when I peer through the curtains, nothing is pristine like that, just lacking.
Is this Sunday? It must not be Sunday.
I added this blog as a way to share some thoughts and experiences around the impact of Covid-19 on my life here in Southern Italy. These posts have been a near-daily practice during this time and are largely unedited, most having been first posted on Facebook. They are of course in order with the most recent entry on the first page. I invite you to explore previous posts or even start from the beginning.