IT’S WHERE YOU MAKE IT

September 8 2013

I was deadheading the petunias this morning, feeling the relaxed elasticity of my body as I bent over the plants, grateful that it is still responsive to the weekly ministrations of our Ayurvedic masseur who arrives every Sunday with his table and his smile, his gentle demeanor an example I aspire to and try to receive through his hands. Joel was on the table now as I snipped the nasturtiums and overhead a flock of birds called out in an avian language unfamiliar to me.

This time last year we were back in New York where, on the night of our re-entry I survived a trip to a Harlem Emergency room. This time last year I was sitting on our couch listening to a flock of helicopters flying over the Hudson River. Needless to say, I don’t miss the helicopters, but yesterday I missed our couch; missed its ultra-suede luxury, the down-filled scatter cushions in their jaunty colors. I missed my stuff. I missed the homes I’ve made, so many beautiful homes in so many places I didn’t want to be.

The flock of birds cawed once more before winging their way over the fields, a staccato of black dots that finally disappeared beyond the hill. I felt the pang of the changing season, the loss of another summer no small thing. Yet always, at this time of year, there is a moment or two when I anticipate donning a cozy sweater, lighting the first fire and luxuriating in a hot tub; I have the sweater, but the fire and tub are missing and it is moments like these that find me missing my stuff.

There is, at present, a slight hiccup in our plans to move up the hill next spring to the house with a tub and two fireplaces. And it threw me yesterday, as I am so easily thrown when anything interferes with my projected plans for homemaking. Of course, it is that little phrase “projected plans,” which gets me into trouble every time. Makes me think of a couple of expressions: “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans,” and “You can plan, but you can’t plan the outcome.” I prefer the latter, partly because I do not believe in any god but especially one who would laugh so unkindly instead of just gently reminding me of the wisdom of the second saying.

But it’s what we do, isn’t it, we humans? We plan. I like to think that planning is merely the business aspect of manifesting dreams and I’m not ashamed to say I divide my time between staying in the moment and dreaming of the future.

Last night we went to town with Gianni and Luana to join friends at a communal dinner outside the medieval wall. Some three hundred of us at 3 long tables, the many courses of food carried out on large stretchers and served by the village children. We’ve been to many of these dinners over the course of 18 years and not much has changed…including the menu.

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Here is community; from the babies passed from arm to arm, the pre-teens put to service. Perhaps 40 young people in their early 20’s still in various stages of single-dom or newly in love took up one end of a table while the rest of us spread out in middle and old age; a clan of young boys with their bicycles hung out nearby loathe to join in, but unwilling to be totally excluded. And all through the balmy night a young man from Siena serenaded us while a handful cooks toiled in the community kitchen.

We drove home at midnight, passing the fields of dried sunflowers, past the colonnade of cypress trees where we married and on to our unpaved road, the tired hills of summer still magnificent in their constancy. We fell into bed in our favorite bedroom with its beamed ceiling, its window onto the landscape, the linen bedding sun dried that morning. We call this home.

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