Wednesday, July 13, 2016

My Italian Villa

All flight connections made, all luggage arrived, airport meeting with my wife without a single cell phone and here I am in my Italian villa near the town of Taormina in Sicily. Mt. Etna looks down on it all, wisps of white clouds circling its peak. A long-haired dog (Chowhound?) share the patio with me, panting and barking the day to life. Familiar agapanthus, wisteria and daturam trumpet flowers, olive trees and a few grapevines, flitting butterflies, scampering lizards, swooping and chirping morning birds. A welcome stillness amidst all the small motions, a silence amidst the music that transforms the world from a mere backdrop to my tiny human drama to an invitation to partake and savor. The way summer is supposed to be, the mythology of leisure sprung to life, re-awakening the child’s sense of time before schedules and accomplishment and mortality steps in. Nothing to do but move, like my dog companion, from one spot of shade to the next.

We all have our fantasy site for the good life, from the Hawaiian beach to the North Beach (San Francisco) apartment to the cottage in England’s Lake Country, but I think the Italian villa looms large in our collective mythology. The typical stone building and red-tiled roof, the garage filled with tools and ceramics and old furniture, the grapevines and garden. The nearby town where the men hang out on benches, where the women gossip in the park with the fountain,where the vegetable seller replaces the pepper I chose with something more worth. And always the music of the Italian language and the dance of the archetypal gestures.

I could see staying here for a month or two and working on all the books that sit unrealized on my shoulder, poking me and prodding me and wondering when they can dismount. Not to fill the fullness of the moment with busyness, but just give a shape to it for a few hours each day, perhaps inside escaping from the blazing sun. Yes, that would be nice. As it is, we’re only here two days and then doing the tourist thing of checking out the sites— some five different places in the next ten days. Oh well. That should be fun also.

But nice to know that my Italian villa awaits me someday.

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