from the archives // 18 Maggio 2021
I watch Pierpaolo prepare a hearty feast for tonight’s guests as the wind blows grass over the waves of Umbrian hills, cigarette smoke wafts through the kitchen, and Franco Battiato echoes in the background.
I’ve been spending several days trying to write something meaningful about my time here at La Terra Agriturismo, but words have been in short supply. It’s been a frustrating feeling, because when my mother and I stayed here in the l’autunno of 2019, every time I looked across the billowing fields that stretched around us, I said,
“If only we had more time, I would sit here and write for hours.”
The view is a writer’s dream. The cucina e sala da pranzo sit on the edge of the hill, overlooking fields that sink down into valleys, to rise up again into the distance, with farmhouses and castles perched atop them. The dining room itself is made up of two full walls of windows, opening onto a covered porched with a view that may at first take your breath away, but follows with an invitation for your breath to return and slow down to a soothing pace that drops you out out of the busy-ness of your mind and into your grounded body.
Here and now, where life unravels one moment at a time. Nothing more and nothing less. Worries of yesterday and tomorrow have been forgotten and replaced with a full engagement in what comes so naturally and intuitively for Italians – the pleasure of this very moment.
La semplicità è l’ultima sofisticazione.
Returning to Sweden too soon, I wrote in the following weeks about how I had left il mio cuore somewhere in the rolling hills – the hills where the rolling waves of grass meet like converging oceans between the borders of Toscana and Umbria. I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d left it, but I was certain that Maya – one of two infectiously lovable resident woofs – must have snatched it and buried it where only she would find it.
Now that I’ve returned to La Terra, my intention is to finally take that time that I had longed for during our autunno visit that was too short, and constantly interrupted with day trips to surrounding sites – Montepulciano, Bagni San Filippo, Siena, and the endless detours along the way delivered by way of meandering roads boasting with cinematically romantic views.
Arriving again in Maggio, my attention can turn toward the merging of pen and paper. No car, no place to be. Sinking into an endless pause of countryside life felt like an expansive sigh of relief after almost two months in Firenze, where I was prone to running around with a to do list that somehow, despite ticking boxes, continued to lengthen. Such is the danger of getting your feet swept from under you in the fast current of modern urban life.
Pen, meet paper.
Finally, after a year and a half absence, there is time to weave stories about places, slow food, feelings, and people.
Or so I thought. When I finally carved out time to sit still long enough to jot down a few words, I found myself instead gravitating toward transferring outdated and expired #MorningCoffee Stories into full articles.
I was born with the infectious travel bug inside of me, being uprooted from my birthplace a mere 2 months after being introduced to this planet – and so, really it’s no surprise that the last decade has been almost entirely nomadic. With travel as a vital component to such a life, sharing intricately woven editorials about my experiences through the people I meet and places I see has always felt like a non-negotiable necessity.
As a storyteller on the move, I have a responsibility to share the journey with the world, leaving breadcrumbs behind.
And yet, here I sit, focused on my inner journey.
Instead of saturating myself in the sweetness of this present moment, my attention is torn between the already folded-over fragments of the past; and the uncertainty of the future, as time unfolds itself into the next moment. Both folds converge to consummate this moment that exists so fleetingly.
But with a forward focus that is anchored to a question I have yet to find the answer for – “what do I do next, and infused with what larger-than-life purpose?” – I miss the life that is staring me straight in the face.
The purpose of life is to live it, after all. Elements of that living are lost in the process of interrogation.
The world rooted in a tangible reality continues to spin, and yet I am pulled into the elusive cloudscape of my mind.
Resounding loudly at the core of my personal Universe is a pestering, why, why, why, why, why?
“Because it is right.”
The more frequently and with the more urgency I demand the question, the more elusive the answer becomes.
As if the Universe is rolling her eyes in exasperation and begging me to hear the answer that, like life, is staring me in the face:
Perché? Perché è così.
Could it be so simple?
Simply, because it is right. Isn’t that enough?
>>> Click here to continue into Part 2, written from present day.