The Gravity of the Pot

on Saturday, June 13, 2009


Today was one of the best days of our lives. But let me start with yesterday.

Yesterday, we spent the morning finishing up some painting in one of the bedrooms. This house, like many of the houses in Italy, is ancient….centuries and centuries old. It is an old farmhouse, which always consist of two levels. The top floor was where the family lived and the bottom floor was the stable where the animals live. Near the kitchen, there is a huge gaping hole that is covered by a cellar door. Here, the farmer could throw food down to the animals. Because they were eating organically in those days, the shit smell was not as fierce, apparently close to nothing at all (which I find difficult to believe after scraping shit off the floor of an old barn…that 16th century shit resonating underneath was certainly there and smelled a lot like…well, 21st century shit.) The animals presence also kept the house warm and acted as central heating in the winter. One big happy family. Most farmhouses like this are now bi-level homes. Italy likes their bureaucracy and makes it very difficult for people to alter anything has withstood the test of time. If there are seven rocks placed ever so structurally sound, as to resemble a wall or perhaps a terrace, you will spend your first 4 years of ownership begging the municipality to look at your plans to build 3 other walls and make a home.

As for Anagrazia, she spent 6 years waiting on lines and greasing the palms of local decision makers to create this masterpiece in the Cinque Terra National Park. She chose to simply leave the hole dividing the two floors (which is now blocked for privacy) and not put a staircase in…but she rarely throws scraps down here and Ricks farts don’t heat up the place like a barnyard animal might.

A side note, Italians are also not very fond of their country. It is really fun to think about and discuss with them (however briefly)…but they could give two flying cow patties about their country…they have no pride in what they stand for, who represents them…I would venture to guess that a home-grown Italian doesn’t even know the colors of the nations flag. Pride in their food on the other hand…pride in the cleanliness of their bathroom….pride in not showing up anywhere on time and not working more than 3 straight hours on any given day…this is where Italians shine! Rick and I were so excited to be ambassadors for the US…to boast about our new president and how we would once again embrace the power of hope and change and bring the world at large to peace everlasting…and we found out, rather quickly…that Italians couldn’t give a shit. Yeah, they are psyched we finally got our heads on straight and got rid of GW, but they have no concern with changing the world…for proving that they carry the torch for world peace…or for shouting from the mountaintops that they dodge their taxes. They just want al dente pasta, banana hammocks on the beach and the 10 hour work week with health benefits. Simple.

So, to say the least….we are enjoying this kind of lifestyle. Anagrazia brought us with her to Vernazza yesterday to be part of her yoga class. We meditated for two hours in an old church on top of a mountain in one of the most quaint and colourful villages in Cinque Terra. Anagrazia translated for us which made it even more pleasant. Her Italian is like a soft, poppy, love song and even when she speaks English it seems to flow together without any harsh vowels or monotones. Always up and down with her stories…her voice fluctuates and creates mini music scales…honest, every time she gets on the phone its like someone is running their finger up and down the keys on the piano…I wonder if she’s constantly telling stories that begin with deep insight and end with a joke…and vice versa….so, inside this church, the floor was cold marble, Anagrazia set up her tapestry on the floor where the priest would deliver the Eucharist and we created a circle in places of the pews. The statues had no arms and faded color with chunks of stone missing from their faces. It was spooky…and at one point before I closed my eyes and saw St. Francis staring at me with one eye and no limbs, it was intimidating. I felt as though my religion was falling apart. All this talk of energy, the world being created from atoms and plants….it started to make me question what I believe in. But that is another story all together…I am happily married to faith of any kind right now….considering where I am. We just returned from our private beach. Our own private stretch of the Mediterranean. I only wish I could describe it in words…The setting, like the sunset and the stars, has never been the same on this mountain. It changes every day. Today, the waves were fantastic. They were enormous. They took my breathe away! We went down our zig zag path covered in landslides, through countless spider webs silhouetted in the sun wondering when the boulder would come crashing down on us…getting closer and closer, the waves getting louder and finally the beach is in view. Down at the bottom of the mountain we can see the huge transparent waves crashing on the dinosaur egg rocks. A beach of the smoothest, roundest rocks. The path ends and we head into some pine and brush…then we scale the cliff face very carefully down to the beach. The rocks are being pulled so strongly that they sound like thunder. Not rainstorm thunder….the thunder that you hear when the electricity cuts out…the roar of thunder that scares your father from the television. They pull the rocks off the shore just as quickly as they dump huge boulders onto the surface. It is so scary that it is beautiful. You can see directly through the emerald waves, 12 feet high…straight to the horizon. The sea, at a distance is so choppy…it looks like God is shaking out the sea like we shake out the sheets. Huge swells of wavy water chopping up and down making a mist that coats the sky, the sun and the mountain and makes it all look as if none of it is real. Its off with the clothes and into ridiculous mode, jumping from rock to rock in your bare feet balancing yourself to get to the water and dodging the waves. It is impossible to look cool walking around on a rocky beach…but none of that matters…we are absolutely alone…no one in sight for miles…and even if there is, we don’t care, we cant care….its far too perfect to worry about anything but being completely butt naked jumping from rock to rock under the Mediterranean sun. There was no chance of a swim today…not with the waves dropping off boulders imported from France…so we sat with our backs to the sea and let the waves crash in over our heads. Covered in salt, we took pictures in the sun, silhouettes of our bodies with the sun glowing behind us. It started to set and the moon showed up pulling at the waves even stronger. When we left the sky was turning pink and purple…orange and yellow...the sun was headed for the horizon and the path was shady and cool.

We tried to cook for Ana…she lets us cook with her every meal which is very relaxing, but typically she just cooks for us. We were excited to show our new skills…but our frittata didn’t flip and got stuck to the pan so we just had a scrambled omelette instead…she didn’t seem to mind, but I bet she told her friends about it and had a laugh. Anagrazia really loves us. We work in the garden, let the wind swing us on the hammocks under the pine trees, make flower arrangements, paint, build fires, make rock gardens, clean gutters….we laugh, we sing and we eat…all day. She asked us to come back next summer and help prepare the house for the market and get things ready for her move to the Philippines. I lost track of what she was saying after that….I could only imagine returning to this place and sharing more of these sunsets over the sea and that secret, sacred beach with her for just one more month…maybe we will.

Plenty of pictures on the way...hopefully we can get around to it tonight...we are back in Tuscany now in the toy shop...but we have markets every night in small beach towns. We actually sold a couple of the toys we made...


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