The last few weeks have been gentle and quiet, with Fabrizia in the United States on a publicity tour. We still have had quite a few visitors, with Costanza running the show, but the pace has been more relaxed. It has given me the chance to get office work for the film done, but (more importantly) to take long nature walks in the name of creating a hiking guide for the cooking school. The hills that surround the school have become my stomping ground and nothing makes me happier than exploring routes in the vineyards that I haven't been on before, or simply taking a sunset walk with Fiona.
The sculptural beauty of the autumnal flowers and grasses are a delight to photograph, though I only bring along my camera occasionally. Most days, I like some machine-free freedom, and only take my trusty boots (now muddy with Sicilian clay) or sometimes a Bible as well. I find the tops of these hills to be quite spiritual places, with the incredible vistas and the solitude. I feel like it's just me and the ladybugs (see the one above, munching on aphids...). After living in places where walking alone in nature was not a wise idea, (because of either dangerous people or dangerous creatures like mountain lions or snakes), it feels like such a blessing to walk the hills without fear. There are none of either type of peril here, and I feel safe. Though it is nice to go with Fiona as well, who has become such a close buddy.
One day, after dropping two American visitors off at Casa Grande, the center of the winery, I took a two hour walk along the stream bed that winds between the hills. Because almost every square inch of Sicily is cultivated, these sometimes-watery ditches are some of the last repositories of wild ecosystems (along with the shrubby hilltops). As I walked, I peaked into the small glades to check out the different types of trees and grasses that grow there. There is everything from poplars to wild quince trees to blackberry brambles (and quite a few beautiful grasses that I'm not familiar with). Additionally, as I was walking by the "lake" (more of a reservoir) which the winery uses for irrigation, I saw a blue heron soar by me. It was such a gift, as it seems like such an unlikely place for her to live. It made me miss home (Florida) and all the cranes and herons. Sicily has so much natural beauty, but it nevertheless reminds me to appreciate how much uncultivated land we have in the United States.
One thing I do very much appreciate about the cultivation is that the vineyards provide me with endless walking trails and also snacks for the hike. I pick so many sweet white grapes (somehow left over from the harvest), that I come home with sticky hands--and very content. The vines are also beautiful this time of year, as they turn an autumnal red. I'll sit on a hill top, spitting seeds and watching the graceful flocks of starlings that dance along the hills, also excited about the left over grapes. Occasionally, I'll see a hawk as well. In these moments especially, I feel overwhelming grateful to God for bringing me to this place.
I'm a graduate student at Duke Divinity School, and a recent graduate of Pomona College, who is setting off to find my calling in the world. This blog is to keep in touch with those I love and to share my journey with others.