It’s a sunny Saturday morning, early September. I’m climbing a ladder leaned up against the house. It’s that time of year. The air has begun to change; it’s both crisp and faintly rotten-smelling. Where we live we are rich in cottonwoods, proving that riches can also be a curse. Trees with big leaves, cottonwoods start unleaving early in the fall. Our trees are mature, tall beasts. The eaves and gutters on the house are already full. Up on the ladder, I’m on clog patrol. Continue reading →
Plato, I learned in graduate school, was nervous about music. He would have excluded the flute from the Republic. His vision of an ideal world was men standing around talking (yes, of course, men), engaged in dialectic, trying to get to the truth, trying to make some wisdom. Continue reading →
I’ve been having doubts about my hat. It’s a hiker’s hat, with a full brim all the way around, and a drawstring that hangs in front of my ears and can be cinched under my chin. I bought it sort of on the fly. It was a careless oh-what-the-hell purchase. I knew I would need a hat. In three weeks time we would be walking eight National parks.
Unlike my wife, who looks great in hats (and she will tell you so, and it is true), a hat on my head can look ridiculous. When I buy a hat, attention must be paid. Continue reading →
I’ve been feeling lonesome for green beans since we got home from Italy.
Early Tuesday mornings over there, in the piazza just up the street from our building, Marco Stanchini sets up his fruit and vegetable stand. He’s open for business until noon. By the time I get there around 8:00 a.m., the old ladies, some with husbands in tow, are busy bagging their produce. Continue reading →
In Italian, the sin of gluttony is gola. Golosita’.
In Italy, it’s so easy to be goloso.
I’m thinking about gluttony the day my wife and I drive to Urbino. From Pesaro it’s a 40 kilometer drive I do not love, on a two-lane road through village after village, past Montelabbate and Colbordolo, past Gallo and Morcia. Every few kilometers you have to brake for a roundabout. You get stuck behind trucks and vans, behind decrepit Fiats driven by old men. Then around Trasanni, 5-10 kilometers from Urbino, the road straightens out, and the hills rise gloriously, so glorious you almost think you might slow down, pull over, and take in the view.
You come home struck by the warmth and generosity of people. Maybe it’s standing in front of astonishing sights like the Duomo in Florence or sharing the mind-blowing food at Fagioli or walking together in the rain knowing your feet will be soaked when you get back to the hotel, and not really caring. Or the hand held out to steady you when you step into a gondola. A bond is formed. You join hands and hearts for a few minutes, a few days. Continue reading →