Thursday, 7 June 2012

"A child said, What is grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know any more than he." (from "Song of Myself" Walt Whitman)>

Summer has finally arrived in Le Marche.  The balers are making hay and creating fever pitched frustration amongst the drivers on the narrow roads.  Vineyards are being weeded, sprayed (for bugs?), and prayed over.  One way or another the countryside is a-buzz.
And then there are the odd, few fields where, it seems, time has stood still.  Here men drive their womenfolk in the early morning and leave them to their day's work, harvesting the crop.  The women wear long, flowered dresses, with dark scarves tied over their heads and as they work they chat to each other loudly and unceasingly.  The crop (for what it is I do not know) is gathered into little stacks around a wigwam-like,wooden frame.  When the frame has been covered with the dried grassy/hay-like crop, a little canvas "sail" or "hat" is tied on top and each corner fastened with string which is staked to the ground.  These little stacks have something medieval (almost primeval) about them.  Something one of the Breughels might have painted.  We have gleaned that the stacks are called "cavalli" (horses) because of those little hats tied on top like saddles (?).  The idea is, apparently, that from the stack, seeds, or perhaps beans? (or perhaps magic beans?) will fall - this is the harvest.  It looks as though this method of harvesting has not changed for centuries.  I don't really want to know what the crop is;  that would break the spell.

At sunset the "luciole" (fireflies) work their own magic as they ignite, flicker and frolic in their unchoreographed dance across the parched lawns.  The chemistry which makes them glow is the stuff of science - thank goodness no one's told them that.

Yesterday we went inland to Acqualagnia, the land of the "marmisti" (literally - marble-mason). We finally found an artisan who will make my little wall mounted fountain to my own design.  It's not an essential part of the house , we shouldn't really be bothering with it right now, given all the other things that have to be sourced and chosen, but right now this is my little bit of magic and mystery.

Today, at il Gelso there were two groundbreaking events. 

Firstly, the kitchen walls have been finished, the wooden beams have been fitted and this morning the "pianelle" (the ceiling tiles) are being put in place.  They are old tiles, I don't know from where they were sourced, but they are the last set of ceiling tiles to go in the house and they are the most beautiful; all shades of rust and ochre.  The kitchen is beginning to look like a habitable room at last. 

Secondly, this morning, Paolo became a grandfather!  A girl!  More magic and mystery.  He'll be in a good mood for a while; I must make some of the important, impending choices on the house before the euphoria wears off.  Suspect there's no rush though.



  1. Loved your blog, Lina. It reminded me of what we went through in Corinaldo but we weren't as brave or as thorough as you! Last time we were there we saw the first luciole in our neighbours' garden - a fortunate coincidence.

    1. Thanks for visiting. Really enjoyed your site, especially the libraries section. Have you seen the Valentini exhibition in Pergola's museum? It's a delight of modern craftsmanship.