Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dreaming at the Speed of Wine

“You’re all over the place!” my friend Mario said to me. For sure, the past month has been a roller-coaster ride, from Canada to Italy, over to NY and Rhode Island and back to Dallas, only to shove off to Austin and then back to Dallas Just in time for TexSom VII. So as I was chatting up a French chef over a bottle of Chateau de La Chaize Brouilly, my friend Mario was ruminating over my movements.

“Mario, how come I have never seen you drink wine?” I asked him. At which time he picked up the glass of Beaujolais and took a sip. Something I thought I would never see. Mario is soon to be 95, you see, and an avowed Dubonnet and Scotch man. No wine for him. But he recently went through a hip replacement and some heart work and he was down for a few months getting himself healed. But now he’s back and walking with barely the aid of a cane. He’s not afraid of change. Hey, I got him to drink red wine. Now if I can just get him to try some Italian wine, maybe even something Sicilian, like where our people came from.

I have been thinking deeply about my little rustic Tuscan trip. I’ve never been one to actively want to go to Tuscany, preferring the South and the food and the language and the people. But then whenever I get sent to Tuscany, it’s like “What was I thinking? These are nice people, even if their Italian sounds a little odd to me.” Odd, in that I grew up listening to the Calabrese/Napolitan dialect and the deep mountain Sicilian languages like Arberesh. Tuscan sounded more like Latin to me, a little stultified, but nonetheless, the home of the true Italian language.

Still, I’m not the philologist in the group, so I better get back to what I do best. I’m the dreamer.

And in my dreams, the shepherds I was with earlier this month are really on my mind. I think about their daily work, which goes on day after day, while we reinvent the world over and over, in the cities. In the board rooms and in strategy meetings, men (and women) in power mull over the next change, the best move, the winning combinations. And the Farru brothers, in their barns and in the fields, tend to their animals, the sheep.

I don’t know why these things have such a grip on me. Yes I do. In today’s world, which changes almost for the sake of change, like change is A.D.D. and cannot stand a moment of calm, here are these Sardinian brothers and their family, and their sheep and the dogs and the cats and the whole universe of their life, in some sort of harmony. A harmony I find hard to decipher back here in the urban centers of America.

And to make it more paradoxical, I am not a country boy. Except for the 12 years I lived in the desert of Southern California, I have lived in cities all my life.

So there is an inner conflict. Or maybe there is a rhythm to one’s life that, at times, calls for the city and at other times, calls for Rustic Tuscany or the Wild Canadian Coastline. Or just some place where change takes place because it is part of the organic unfolding of the life around us.

In the cities, it’s all about movement, all about staying one step ahead of the competition, all about getting to the mountain top first.

Back in the country, when one gets to the top of the hill, it is usually so one can jump into the cool swimming hole below, to immerse oneself into the life and the process and to slow down the heat caused by the friction of life and ego and the surrounding chaos.

And in Italy, where folks are immersed in Ferragosto right now, the water must be really nice right now.

And so I dream of my summer time in Italy and don’t want to wake up just yet.


A.M. said...

Lovely writing, as always. Particularly liked your contrast of the city - "which changes almost for the sake of change, like change is A.D.D" - and the rustic country.

Ellen Smith said...

Lovely! It was a great read and I loved the shots as well, gets through me :)

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