Swallows, hummingbird moths and blossom may have been the tell tale signs that Spring was on its way in Abruzzo, but, my official springtime clock starts when ‘He’ of plate like hands sits astride his tractor freshly shaven with new coiffure to start the busy season.
‘He’, is my farmer neighbour whom I haven’t seen for 3 months, since his finale planting of the hardy bitter green things that act as a strange sweet comfort when enduring a harsh winter in the mountains. I’ve seen his wife lots of times early in the morning picking those assorted green leaves that will sit wilt and stew on the agar waiting for their finale drizzle of olive oil, but he’s been resting dead weary bones, slunk deep, deep in his fireside armchair, with energy simply to fan the fire and watch TV.
The other sign of hustle bustle spring was our first picnic invite. To walk up into the hills and deliver breakfast to the Nonno (Grandfather) of A’s little girl friend who’d been up at an ungodly hour busy with his rotavator preparing his potato patch.
The lattice of land around Bascianella and who owns what strip or terrace is mind-boggling. If only the hills could whisper the secrets of the land entitlement about this little 400 year old village; the favourite son, the beautiful and green-fingered daughter, the secret lusty embraces by the widowed mistress, in which she was promised not the world, simply land to feed the belly and keep her sons at home.
Hunting wild asparagus along the way, Nonna (Grandma) managed to find enough for 1 small frittata, we delivered the eagerly awaited breakfast panino and feasted along with a hungry neighbouring dog on a tasty home-baked Night and Day Ciambella shaded by the olive trees. The chit chat, naturally potatoes, the eager shoots of the Sulmona garlic and fave beans that were doing gloriously well, all without a weed in sight!
Why am I writing all this, I have no photographs of these special spring moments instead of looking through a shutter I lived in the moment with the group, blossoms taken previously! I’d love for my little boy to remember this little ramble and his first Abruzzo farmer’s picnic, sat on already hardened ground shaded by olives, counting the number of RaRa flowers (dandelions). Aged just two and a half, he may have a fleeting memory of the taste of the cake if he ate it again one day in later life but I am sure that would be all. This is where I am hoping this part Mummy blog comes in over the coming years, whose comforting memories he will be able to dip into after staying up far too late the night and pondering the eternal who am I.