We wake on Monday to the sound of jackhammers and shouting. It’s early. Annamaria’s botteca isn’t even open yet. I get up and go to the large windows in the living room. The small piazza is full of trucks.
We’re in the beginning of our return to “normalcy” and the fiber optic cables must be laid. While I have frequently lamented the internet service here and have longed for a more stable connection, I think I will miss the vintage two-tin-cans-and-a-string feel of my current communications. I also will miss the very quiet mornings we’ve had for the past two months.
Spring is ripening, warming. Green has reached the top of all the nearest mountains. We are almost ...
...on the verge of early summer. I know that once there were more names to seasons than just four (with the occasional addition of “early” and “late”) and am disappointed for the losses of language. If I say, “it’s just when the wild oats are nearly at the milky stage and the wild barleys and wheats are ripening, but just as the cultivated cereals are beginning to send up their seed heads”, would you know what I mean?
I make the rounds. I have errands to do! I have errands that I CAN do that aren’t shopping for food! But there’s some of that too. First I call our Indian neighbors. Are you home? Of course they are. Though when they open the door, Sabbi is getting ready to go to work. The restaurant he works has been closed for months but the owner has found work for him to do during this period anyway so he can keep his little family fed. His wife and their baby come down the stairs behind him. She smiles shyly, as she usually does, and we make small talk with almost no words in common. The baby’s head is full of glossy black hair. It’s grown so much they’ve had to cut it already, says the proud father. The little one is 5 months old. She is studying me intently with large dark eyes. I pull down my mask for a moment so she can see my smile. She still isn’t sure what to make of me. It’s been awhile since I’ve held her and chatted with her. Her father says she hasn’t been outside in all this time, not even once, so the sunlight and noise fascinate her into wide-eyed silence. I hand them the small bagful of hand knit sweaters that my architect’s mother has been making, one after the other, for weeks on end now. These are the ones that are too small for her new granddaughter, seven months old and anyway always much bigger than this little one.
I go to buy a few more plants for our garden and when I arrive at the small hardware store there are already several other bicycles propped up against the tree in front or near the gate of the yard where the plants and other outdoor materials are. The “line” is a loose arrangement of folks, mostly men over 70, chatting. We nod to each other and I understand that I’ll go after the man in the blue mask but before Fernando, who leans his bicycle against the low wall on the other side of the tree to come over and greet me. We first met in the woods one autumn, gathering chestnuts. He gave me all of his, as he was just doing it to pass the time, and, noticing my scratched fingers, showed me how to open the urchins with a stick. I haven’t seen him since before the lockdown began. He’s doing fine. Concerned of course. What can you do? Along with the man in the blue mask we talk about what’s going into the ground now. I’m advised to wait on seeding my pole beans until the wheat matures and to consider a few chickens. The man in the blue mask has 15. We agree that food fresh from one’s own garden is “tutto un’altra cosa” [another thing entirely] and that we are very fortunate.
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.