Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Would you like some garbage?"

Day Eleven

We decide to wake up at 7:30AM today so that we may actually chew our breakfast before beginning work. Felipe and Rosa had left for the market at 6:45, and Jake and I had been instructed the previous night to speak with Massimo about work in the morning. We eat breakfast, check the laundry, practice Italian, and otherwise get ready for the day before meeting with Massimo to begin work. He informs us that we will be riding in the tractor today, and he is not kidding. We load up into the trailer, and ride to the chestnut farm.

Business as usual, of course. Chestnuts, chestnuts, and more chestnuts. It has only been one other day of work, and they are already all I see when I close my eyes. I find myself discovering patches loaded with chestnuts and my only thought is, "JACKPOT!" About noon we break for lunch, and Massimo cooks us left over rice with beef and rosemary served with wine and mozzarella. I'm telling you, this never gets old. I could literally spend the rest of my life eating this cheese.

We rest for several hours- reading, learning Italian, and often times sitting around looking at the surrounding simply because we can. Around 3PM Jake and I go out, hedge trimmers in hand, to the fig tree that we tried picking the previous day and hacked away at the brambles and thorns that had been causing us so much grief. Fritz sat nearby, watching, playing, munching. Poor Fritz. Lucky Fritz. Both really- he doesn't know that his life is any different from the average dog. In Italy, the dogs are treated as dogs. They live outside, never inside, and get attention when you want to give it. Because of this Fritz gets so excited every time someone is around him. He has fleas, so he does not get much attention- but I also think this makes him less needy. He jumps around and play bows at you as if to say, "I would really love it if you would love me, but I don't expect you to." He is a sweet dog, and reminds me an awful lot of Zoey. The "lucky" part is the fact that with his kibble he is also served all of our delicious leftovers, as well as any apples, grapes, and figs that he can scavenge. That dog doesn't have it TOO rough.

Around 4PM, Rosa calls to me and says that her and her sister are going for a walk in the woods, and would I like to join them? I agree- I could use to get out of the house, and her sister does not speak English so I could eavesdrop and try to learn a few words. On the drive, I heard a few that I knew. Cat being pretty much the only one. We get to a field of grapes that Rosa explains is hers, as well as the next grape field over. We hike through the woods- Rosa with ease, and myself stumbling clumsily behind her. She is a small woman with a large mission- she soon explains that there is a large chestnut tree at the top with the largest chestnuts on their farm. Of course. I volunteer my downtime to pick chestnuts. Not to worry, though, because these chestnuts are really something else. Almost as big as my palm, I can only pick up 3 at a time whereas earlier I could fit about 7 or 8. We continue to pick as I see yet another field of grapes ahead. "Are those grapes?" I ask, just to be sure. Rosa responds in a way that makes it difficult to tell whether she is jealous of this owner or just being honest and says, "Yes, but those are not mine." We wander back through the forest, which, like all Italian woods is full of over-productive spiders. You can literally pass between two trees and get a face full of web, and walk the SAME place 15 minutes later with the same results. There are webs everywhere- the spiders are lovin' them some chestnut forests.

We got back to the car and went to a small neighboring village where I had my first Italian gelato experience. DELICIOUS. However, I will give America one prop: our cones kick so much ass in comparison. Oh well, I would rather have delicious ice cream than a delicious cone….or I could always get a dish. It is getting close to dark and we return to the house. Rosa announces that dinner will be ready at 8PM and Jacob and I retire to our room to play a bit of Rummy. Dinner is fantastic and different- pressure cooked cauliflower (or "garbage" as Rosa mistakenly called it) with olives, oil, and reduced wine as well as leftover rice and tomato sauce, boiled potatoes, hardboiled eggs, and bread. Rosa's son has been teaching Jake and I Italian which is pretty remarkable. He is absolutely brilliant. He can speak both English AND Italian…..and not only that, but he is also able to teach us with ease. It's awesome.

Despite having a very easy day, I am incredibly exhausted- however it could have something to do with the two Benedryl I took before dinner. My allergies are under control while digging through the molded leave of the chestnut farm, but lock me in my bedroom and it's like sneeze-fest 2010. Which reminds me that on this day, in Montefalcione, Italy, it is the only time in my life that the date will be 10/10/10.

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