Good morning!

It’s a surprisingly warm October. It would be delightful if it weren’t for the fact that this comes on the tail of a treacherously hot and dry summer.

But looking on the bright side, it’s Sunday morning, my first work-free day in ages, and a beautiful day to go take a walk in the woods with my children. Perhaps, notwithstanding the drought, we might find some chestnuts or even mushrooms…

I woke up, the first to rise, made myself an espresso, fed the cats and fish, then walked in front of the house to see this… it’s already a magnificent day! 

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wildflowers of a Tuscan winter

Each time I go out into my garden (which, apart from a few rose bushes, irises and cacti, is pretty much a wild field), take a walk down a country lane, or a little hike in the woods, I can’t stop myself from picking wildflowers. It may very well be an illness. And I wonder if it might even be illegal…But that’s not the point. I simply get overwhelmed by the stunning beauty and complexity of the flora here.
Now if I had ever really taken the time to stop and look (and yes, smell) the flowers back home in Washington D.C., I am sure I would have been in awe even there. But there is something about living year-round in Tuscany that makes it very hard to not start to synch with the natural world around you, to live by its rhythm, and marvel at the details of its creations.
Yesterday on a brief stroll down the hill from my house I picked this little bunch:

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viburnum tinus what locals call leccio peloso which translates as “hairy oak” and has these incredible little dark-blue berries that can be iridescent, and also produces tiny little white and dusty-pink flowers in clusters
rosemary with its delicate little purple flowers, symbolizing remembrance and steadfast love
sage symbolizing wisdom
arugula  with its delicate little clusters of white flowers (it grows wild in the fields here and used to be called erba puzza or “stinky grass” because if you fed it to animals even their meat would smell)
olive branches of course a symbol of peace, but also of bounty and purity – in fact ancient Greek brides carried olive branches as we today have a bouquet

Midnight in Volterra

A winter’s night in Tuscany. The babies are sleeping soundly, the Christmas lights are still up and on the trees outside, making the dark night a little less so. They’re almost the only lights to be seen for miles… there are the far-off twinkles of the lights of Pomarance, the town on the next high ridge west of Volterra, and the stars. That’s it. Every now and again I’ll hear the distant vibration-rumble of a truck on the main road, but other than that, silence reigns (except when Francesco snores). It is unusually warm this winter, with not a flake of snow to have been seen yet. We’ve almost given up hope, as the tulips and daffodils are already starting to push up out of the earth and the mimosa tree seems ready to precociously turn its bud-laden branches into an explosion of yellow poufs.