22 Apr 2015

…when life was green.

Nel verde degli anni

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This month, the Italy Roundtable’s topic is “green“. Green is my favourite colour, and the dominant colour in the countryside at this gorgeous time of the year. I had to think long before I sat down and started writing. I didn’t just want to write about the colour of the spring as such, but it is very difficult to escape the topic in April and when you get to spend the weekend in the glorious countryside of southern Tuscany.

Tuscany

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But then, last Saturday, I took my girl out for a stroll through my home village, and it hit me. I noticed that something was different around me.

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It is funny how you tend to look at things differently on different occasions. When I am out with my kids, I tend to look at what is around me as I remember it from when I was more or less their age. I look at them moving in the places of my childhood and memories come to me through the sounds, the smells, the colours that surround us.

Tuscany

In Italian, we call our childhood years “anni verdi“, the “green years”. And in my case, growing in the countryside, the connection between the green around me and my “green years” is very strong. Except I had no idea it was. Not until last Saturday.

I was walking through the park, and I noticed that some of my “reference points” were gone. Some big chestnut trees whose leaves I used to gather to make hats and skirts had been cut down, because the exceptionally strong wind of a few weeks ago had made them weak and dangerous.  In their place, a large portion of sky above us, and a big hole in the ground, still surrounded by some safety tape.

A large cypress tree was missing whose sticky berries I used to collect with my great-grandmother when I was more or less my son’s age. We call them “coccole” and they leave your hands covered in sticky resin with a very distinctive smell. When I was a teenager, I used to sit on a bench under that tree with my best friends and chat with them for hours in the long summer evenings. I had my first girlfriend-boyfriend fight under that tree. Well, now it is gone. And so is “my” bench.

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I kept pushing my daughter’s stroller uphill while looking around to see if something else was not quite as I remembered it. And sure enough I found out more trees have been cut down, including a large cedar that must have been at least 300 years old. The spaces where I grew up were now different. Some of those trees were evidently cut down a long time ago. I hadn’t noticed, because I don’t get to spend nearly as much time as I used to in my home village.

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Half of the large oak perched on the hill at the entrance of the village is gone. So are some other chestnut trees, and what is left of their trunk is now covered in moss.

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Lots of memories came gushing in, with the awareness of time passing. Some of that green is gone, just like some of the people who populated those spaces. Everything changes, life goes on.

Italy Blogging Roundtable

This is a post in a monthly series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Here you can find the posts of the other bloggers who participate in the roundtable. Our topic this month was “green“:

italy travel blog roundtable

Comments

  1. I didn’t know that one’s youth was “the green years” in Italian – what a lovely saying. 🙂

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