I’m sitting in a stunning spot at Forterocca with a view of the alps , church and village trying to write ‘the book’, when two trucks a minivan and multiple people arrive all chatting loudly in Italian. Maybe I should change position, move to the café, but then there are the folk from the square and the locals staring trying to decide what I’m doing.
Will I always feel like an outsider here in our Italian journey, overdressed or under dressed, in the wrong spot, saying the wrong thing? Feeling obvious, uncertain, like an idiot. A shaggy haired idiot with smelly clothes and no makeup. How do they make jeans and a t-shirt look so good?
The alps tower over us all, visible one day hidden by thick fog the next. Lines of ancient houses hug the mountains. Our house is in the deepest part of the valley, you will get no light for three months Antonio tells me with delight, e molto freddo and senza sole. The valley is too tight to allow the sunlight, it will make its way in a low arc and be gone by the early afternoon.
I no longer wear a watch, I tell the time by the comings and goings of our neighbors, and the ringing of the cowbells as they head in for milking late in the day. I know when its lunch time by the total absence of any sound apart from the newest stray dog howling on her chain. She cries to be released or fed or just loved, maybe all three. Her oddly colored eyes are always sad and she shivers constantly, a good breeze might blow her all the way back to the village and her past owners.
Sunlight creates deep shadows which hide the detail. The valley is still awaiting the tolling of the lunch time bell then everything will stop. A scruffy brown dog sits sunning itself in a doorway one floor up over the street. It’s front paws dangle over the edge of a partly finished concrete ledge. I hear the owner hammering away inside, the dog yawns.
A soft haze of white smoke rises from the chimneys giving away the fortitude of the occupants, comments are made about lighting the fire this early, how much wood will be needed to see us through the winter, and who are we buying it from. How much is a quintale of wood, and how many will we need, then where will we store this mountain of wood that will keep us alive though the oncoming winter.
A white paper lantern swings gently in the breeze like a glowing summer moon, as out of place here as I am. It casts no shadow at all, makes no impression other than its own oddity.
Threads of spider web catch the sunlight, stretching as far as the spider was able to float on the breeze. When the light hits a certain way I can see groups of them dancing in the wind. The sky is a perfect blue, not a cloud just this soft Italian haze that makes me feel as if I am in a movie.
To just sit in the warmth of an Italian sun, to remove the many layers of clothing added in the chill early hours of the morning when it was crisp and fresh the mountain wind biting at my face is a treat. Silence, no kids no husband. I’ll even forgive the owner of the scruffy dog for starting up his chainsaw, the dogs barking and two trucks deciding on just this moment to pull up under the balcony of the scruffy dog which has now disappeared.
The twelve o’clock bell tolls, I can’t stop myself from counting the swinging bell as it rings out through the valley. Incredibly loud sitting here right underneath, perhaps that’s why the dog chose just this moment to disappear inside. For how many years has this bell tower rung the people to lunch and home to dinner? A bright blue tractor chugs up the road and the bell fades, its echo bouncing off rough stone walls. Another Italian Journey….
A bright shooting star in the blue sky to my left leaves two straight vapor trails as it disappears behind the ridge. A modern orange plastic chair against the bright yellow wall, imitation terracotta tubs with sad faded hydrangeas and doors that need a new coat of varnish to protect them through the winter.
Time is tough here, it leaves a mark on all things.
We are yet to be touched by the winter, I wonder how she will leave her mark on us.
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