Friday, April 17, 2009

buon riposo

We stay at a country house on a hill overlooking olive and orange groves that lead the eye down to the sea. On this hill, there were once mulberry trees used for producing some of the finest silk in all of Italy. But like so much else in this wild place called Calabria, that is no longer true. Our accomodations are simple yet elegant, the house belonging to a noble family. We have all that we might need: a kitchen in which to brew jasmine flower tea or cook a pasta with fresh fava beans, sheep’s milk cheese from Crotone, and pancetta cured by a farmer’s wife who lives not far from where we are staying. Pythagorus hailed from Crotone, about an hour south of us on the coast. In that city, he taught his mathematical theorems and held dialogues on philosophy--the scene really still the same in every modern caffe bar on every corner or street in all of Italy.

A cacophony of birds wakes us in the morning as if we are housed in a tropical aviary. The wild cats, a black one, a white one with a black tail, and a silvery tabby who looks like a rare panther from Mesopatamia watch us at the table outside from beneath the oleander. Their eyes flash green with hunger and we feed them leftovers from our bowls until they are contented and settle down to bathe and sleep. The sun is hot these days, duplicating our northern summer, and we are told that the rains have stopped now. We seek out the sun, then once that has become too much, we search for the shade. Calabria, a land shaped by strong sun, is defined by shade. We are told there will be no water until autumn. The orange trees are in flower and the air is scented with a fat and slightly waxy perfume lulling us. Yesterday, the sky was filled with gauzy haze, perhaps a condition promoted by the grove fires as the contadini prune the trees and burn the leaves and thin branches. Beyond the Ionian, the horizon appears as fog. Today, the clouds streak like wisps of mares’ tails and the eye leads out into the water. A white boat chugs along the surface, somewhere a fisherman fishes, though we cannot see him. The afternoon is heavy with tranquility, only the birds and the rustle of wind. After coffee, we break the quiet with eating fresh strawberries warmed in the sun.


1 comment:

MaggieB said...

I'd like to be there right now. Greetings from chilly New England. :)