Tuscany-Pisa-Cinque Terre...Back to Tuscany

on Friday, May 29, 2009

I have written so very much about Tuscany…its long shadows and hills that catch the sunset like a hammock…the secret garden that Katrina brought us to with caravans, honeybees, bamboo forests and elderflower (that we picked baskets of to make a sweet drink) and a hidden lake with a rickety old dock for the perfect cannonball, about picking cherries and tending the raspberry garden, about making toys and hiking with our dog Cindy….but I will have to save that chapter for the book so I can bring you up to speed.

Here we are in Levanto…region Liguria in the Cinque Terra National Park region. Anatheia is the name of the organic farm where we now live with host AnaGrazia our ex-physicist, professional sailor, permaculture specialist, published author of Bach-flower remedies, herbalist, yoga teacher, technology consultant, vegetarian...plus she can cook! She doesnt care if her car gets a bit dirty, which is one of the seven deadly sins in Italy, she loves to tell us stories about the moon and the stars and her sailing adventures…oh yeah, she is a sailor too. She plans on selling this gorgeous plot of land in the next five years to build a 20 foot sailboat in the Phillipines and sail around the world with friends spreading the word about how to live organic. She is worried about this life change…she thinks about it sometimes she says with difficulty…but she breathes and she finds strength and decides she can do whatever she likes. If you think you can do it or if you think you can not do it, you are right. She is a hippie…and we love her. She has given us all kinds of advice about life, spirituality, gardening…she is patient…an ex-teacher as well. She is smart and doesn’t make you feel stupid (a wonderful and very rare quality) and she has a sense of humour…an old-fashioned one…but she laughs nonetheless and her broken English makes you want to squeeze her cheeks and pat her on the head.

Her book is written in Italian, but part of it says….The Project (what we are working on at the farm) The Garden of the Flowers for the Psyche….The garden is the metaphysical place where we softly meet ourselves; it is the mountain, the hill, the wood, the field and the sea where we contemplate the nature; it is to ask the help of the flowers to know ourselves, it is Anatheia, it is the earth. Anatheia is two Greek words combined anthesis which means the blossom of flower and eia! Which means oh wonder!. Pretty deep stuff. We awake to the sun behind the mountain preparing the coast with a soft hazy light. It is completely quiet here until around 9:00am when the hikers start using the footpaths above some of the terraces. We work in the gardens and here them pass…Germans, Italians, Americans…they are typically the loudest. It is nice to hear them chattering far away sometimes, only voices, not a word can be deciphered. Every now and again we here the neighbors chickens cawing as well, but not much at all. The wind takes the pollen from the pines and sweeps it around the sky in faint yellow swirls. The air is clearly different. It is clean and fresh and smells of absolutely nothing. Sometimes I feel like I am in a Petri dish….so tiny next to the sea. The waves crash down below and the shore seems a stones throw away, but we are hidden deep in the mountain on a bed of terraces underneath the olive trees. Mid-day, we are napping in a hammock or hiking to one of the five towns of Cinque Terre. Afternoons we spend on the land taking breaks to laugh and talk about what our farm will be like. Its just us…no other Wwoofers…and AnaGrazia leaves us on our own. When the sun starts to set over the mountain, we set the table where the view is just perfect and eat our dinner. Tonight, a bed of asparagus with two eggs over easy on top. Salt, pepper. Some bread and mascarpone. It is delicious and simple. Rick and I volunteer for dishes and sneak some cookies…by the time we are finished, the moon and the stars are bright enough to light up the mountain…we are the only living souls in the darkness and we are completely surrounded by fireflies. They go off like fireworks all over the land. The army of frogs sing for hours as soon as the last ray of sun disappears behind the mountain. There are a few distant sailboats…the waves are calming down.

Hiked to Levanto, slept in the park after gelati. Schools out…the sound of kids on bikes, running to the playground, watching them learn how to do cartweels. Screaming at each other in their little Italian dialect. Parents and grandparents sitting on park benches…they always are frantically talking with their hands and seem so upset about something and then, out of no where in the conversation, with no change in intonation or any exclamation, they break out in laughter. Every story is a tragic comedy….and every instant in their lives is extreme grief and guilt mixed with fall to the floor contagious laughter.

Clouds rolled in, and I could feel the shade on my face and the cold breeze from the ocean…but no rain.

The footpaths in Cinque Terra are very well-maintained and we can hike everywhere. Days are busy…but there is so much time to think, relax, write, read….and we are taking it all in. We feel home tugging at us sometimes. Drinks with friends, everyday conversation with family that you don’t have to work at…laughing so hard your stomach hurts and your eyes water…


Aimless said...

Whenever you write about a location, I look it up, and look at pictures... and... it looks so beautiful there! So glad you guys are having an amazing time. Love you!!! xoxoxo

Unknown said...

My Girl,
I cried my eyes out, not sure why,reading your words are like music to my ears. I wish I were there with you guys! It sounds absolutely phanominal(SP).
Sounds like the lady of the farm is from sixties!
Truthefully she sounds kinda strange. Doesn't matter I am happy to hear you are having a good time.
Can't wait to read your book. Hoping, though, if I am in the book you can make me sound prettier rather than Old Nonnaish!

Love you both and miss ya,
Hugs and kisses to infinity!!!

Robert said...

Another gem of a post! Steffan moved out yesterday. So now it's just the three of us. When Morgan moves out, I'm sure we'll retrace at least some of your footsteps and then some. I look to the future and think about all the places I'll get to see...familiar places and places I've never thought about. An excitement you're currently wrapped up in! Enjoy! Speak to you soon.

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