October 21 2014
Something about the angle of the sun at this time of the year; its low hovering, as if the nearness of its rays might compensate for the diminishment of its heat. And so it does, bringing us an elongated Indian summer, all the more of a gift for there not having been much of summer here. And in this low pale light are revealed thousands of gossamer threads linking trees to posts, fences to stalks, gates to antenna and if one sits long enough one will attach itself to a sweater or finger, sewing one into the landscape. The threads, fine as they are, are strong in attachment, akin to crazy glue or the gum of a Bandaid which when rolled in an attempt at riddance just keeps transferring from one surface to the next.
I assume they’re the work of spiders, pre-web. An industrious attempt at wide-world connection with perhaps less negative impact than the internet. Although, much like the internet, they are constantly in your face. These pale strands, invisible without sunlight are as mysterious to me as strands of thought and I have about as much luck following either!
Why I have picked this strand of thought to day I have no idea, anymore than why I have held on to the sound Vincenzo’s tractor coming home late from the fields and hills this past Saturday. I never knew that a tractor could sound so tired. Or how about the lemon tree, which we must soon bring indoors for the winter? The daily surprise of its constant flowering and the counting of 25 new lemons, the appearance of which give me hope that a gal from England can have such success with a Mediterranean tree.
Antonello and Luca, the stonemasons, finished their work here yesterday. 5 days a week for the last month they arrived at 8 each morning, choosing, chipping and cementing stone to create steps and a wall, collars for the olive trees and a sun patio. How strange we were to each other at first; the two of them so deeply Tuscan we could barely understand a word of their dialect. And we to them? Stranieri , looked at askance from a distance. But as they laid the stones I spun my gossamer and each day we became more connected. Each day they ate their lunch at our outdoor table, boots off, socked feet twiddling like schoolboys. And each day when they finished eating I brought them cake and coffee, asked them to speak slowly and was told I spoiled them like a grandmother. Each day brought ever closer by the common threads of decency and respect. Greeting each other with joy every morning.
And so it was that one day we found ourselves talking about Westerns, childhood, The Flintstones, the naming and loving of the animals raised for food, waitressing and dancing and the pleasure of reading. One day I cooked soup for them. Another day Luca stopped what he was doing to help me dig in some plants. During one lunch I brought them Joel’s retrospective book and we watched the two of them move closer to each other on the bench, slowly turning the pages, the pages revealing people and places far, far from their lives.
A week ago, with reticence, they helped me choose the right spot for the pomegranate tree. I remarked on the shame of it bearing no fruit in this, its season, and was reassured by them that now it was in the ground it would most certainly produce. The next morning I went out to look at it and saw that it actually did have one pomegranate dangling from a branch and, wondering why I hadn’t seen it the day before assumed it must have been the slant of the sun and turning to exclaim saw Luca giggling, his prank a great success.
Joel was in Paris on Monday when the guys came to clean up their tools and tarps and cement mixer, loading them into the truck along with their wheelbarrows. We hugged and kissed goodbye and I felt bereft as they drove away. And hour later, I heard the click of the garden gate and looking up saw them coming down the steps. They had forgotten some small thing and joked that they couldn’t live without me.
It isn’t the Internet that connects us on this level, although it is possible to connect on this level via the Internet; our ancient strands of gossamer spinning toward each other, often in frail attempt, sometimes snagged on a thorn, and yet on we go to spin another, constantly reaching for each other across great divides in the pale low light of time.