Monday, May 03, 2004

Country Life in May

It's finally May, one of my favorite months in Italy, when the red dots of poppies line country roads and the grass is just the right shade of green. The sun is not too hot, and the beach beckons from its perch 30 minutes away (a train ride to Civitanova), opening the season of summer.

Yesterday we had a family reunion of sorts with uncles and aunts and cousins at the family's country home about ten minutes from the city. From there, you can see Macerata in the distance, high upon its hill. There are olive trees lining the drive in, and roosters wander around the lot with confused eyes, squawking every once in a while in the quiet country air.

It was supposed to rain yesterday, but luckily it was sunny and warm, bringing in the first days of May and the comfort of family and friends around a dining table. We ate well. I had vincisgrassi vegetarian style--a typical Macerata lasagna-like dish (normally made with meat) that was fixed especially for me (my own little aluminum tin) with mushrooms and spinach. It was delicious. Next to me, Antonello's cousin Daniele drained me of information about America--where to go, what to do, etc. while I could barely focus--all around me Italian accents were thickly Maceratese--the typical "o" becoming a long "oo" instead, people cutting off the last syllable of their words. It was a family gathering, for sure, and we were as "in Italy" as I could imagine.

But little things remind me of home even when we're dining among his relatives--the way his aunt's mannerisms and kindness reminds me of my own aunt's back home, the way his cousins talk and laugh like my own cousins do. In the end families share these things, these small traits like the sound of laughter or the considerable comfort in gathering together for a meal.

And as the dinner ended, two hours later, I looked out the window of the country home. All around me were the rolling hills of the province, stretches where you could only see one or two other farm houses in the vastness of this untouched land. It was beautiful there. Far from home, but beautiful, and comforting, none-the-less.



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