Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Autumn in Italy

I've been pretty homesick lately. I'm blaming it on the season. Autumn is my very favorite time of year. I love autumn in Indiana. The colors of the leaves that paint the hills, the nip in the air, trips to apple orchards and the crisp smell of apples and cider and jams. Nature knows how to age in Indiana--it gracefully covers the land with a blanket of gold, beautifying everything so that one forgets that winter is coming.

I miss all of these things. In central Italy, there aren't any apple orchards. Trees don't exist in the city center of Macerata, and the ones outside of the city walls don't seem to change color the way they do back home. The crisp breeze of autumn is rarely present, and instead it seems like summer is still holding on, not sure whether or not to just skip autumn all together and go straight into winter as Christmas approaches.

And yet, I am learning to slowly recognize some signs of autumn here--the little things that I hadn't noticed before. We drive by vineyards, and I can see deep purple grapes hanging in plump drops from their vines, shining in a golden autumn sun. I can buy artichokes again, and broccoli too--both having been out of season all summer. Olives are green on their silvery trees, and it's becoming time to pick them. Mushrooms are ready and delicious, truffles as well. And the sky in the morning is hazy, all of Macerata peeking between wisps of fog when I look out my bedroom window.

But I still need to make my dad's vegetable soup every once in a while. The comforting smell of it fills our house with memories of home. I can go on with my day after that--after sipping delicious, piping hot soup from a bowl, recounting to Antonello about how we make huge batches of this stuff when it starts getting cold out. And outside my window, it's still Macerata--the beauty of Italy spreading beyond the hillside. But in our apartment, home feels just a little bit closer, and autumn starts to feel again like that season that I love.