With New Eyes
We’ve been back in Cervinara for a couple of weeks and by now I would usually have posted a blog or two about my impressions upon returning; the weather, the menus, the changes in our little neighborhood. But this year has been different in that we came over with our daughter, her husband, and our two year old grandson, James. Then, their friends arrived with their four (count ‘em!) four children, aged 10, 5, 3, and 8 months. We have had quite the crew!
It’s chaotic, of course. Kids running back and forth, splashing in our little pool, discovering the deliciousness of cherries picked right off the tree, apricots all sweet and juicy, and watermelon at the ready, and experiencing the freedom that comes with having our own little cortile where they can do crafts, explore and just kick the soccer ball around. It’s a joy to have a houseful of happy kids, even if our floors may never recover!
But the best part of having these little guests is how we get to revisit old spots and do old activities yet see these things through new eyes. Our James is enthralled with every new discovery. A bag of old keys found in the storeroom has provided hours of playtime for our little fellow. The little plastic wheel barrow and the springy hobby horse, both of which have been here for over 40 years, are sources of delight. Getting our vegetables from the local vendor who passes by in his truck is a thrill for this guy, as it is for all the children. They come back from the truck with kilos of fruit, which never lasts very long!
We have taken them to the bakery where they’ve peered into the wood burning ovens and have seen the giant paddles the baker uses to pull the warm loaves from their heat. We have taken them up to the Mafariello springs where we have grilled burgers and let the kids run through the pine groves and taste the cold, sweet water that is there for the asking. “Mountain water” has become James’ go-to drink. We have taken them down to the Villa Communale where there is a merry-go-round, swings and a little play castle. First we go to Micione for gelato (James always wants fragola (strawberry)), then it’s off to the play area where friendships are made and the gelato sugar rush is run off.
When he goes out on the balcony first thing in the morning on his way to the potty, he always looks up and says “Beautiful mountain!” He loves to run down the covered alley way into the back garden, where there is a nice little echo when he yells. What fun all the kids had at the market, where they were able to see the chicks and ducks, watch the fish being weighed and do a bit of shopping. Ten year old Julie was so thrilled to have completed her own purchase for a cute little hoody.
We’ve had a huge family dinner up at the Giardino pizzeria around the corner. It’s so nice to know that even as 8 month old Sammy screeches because of his teething issues, and James and 3 year old Ava want to run around under the trees, no one is judging. It’s a family place, the food is good, the owners bring out a free Nutella pizza for dessert for the table…it’s not a scene we would readily find back in the States.
I asked James the other day what he liked most about Italy. Ava said the gelato. Amelie said the cherries. James said “Olives”. Indeed, our olives here are unlike any we can find in the states and we relish them as long as we can. The fresh ricotta was another source of enjoyment; bought still warm from the cheese vendor’s trunk, it was eaten fresh from the bowl, cooked into crepes with eggs, and mixed with honey and lemon to be served next to grilled peaches. This latter treat, laced with some Strega, was saved for the adults.
I have waxed poetic here about the day to day activities that are part of our lives here in Cervinara. So routine are they that I have forgotten how special they can be. By having this household of kids, and being able to show them how different things can be, we have all had our eyes opened again to the excitement and beauty of the new. Our little friends are gone for a few days now, which is why I finally have the time to put these words together. They are enjoying the sun and sea of Sorrento and Ischia. They’ll be back for a few days and then are heading back home, to normal lives of air conditioning, TV, and swimming lessons. I hope that they will remember the freedom they enjoyed here, the joys of kicking a soccer ball around the piazza, drinking from the fountain down in piazza Elena, and slurping up a gelato at the Villa. I hope that they will remember that there is more than one way to live one’s life and that the world is full of new and wonderful things. I hope that their time in Cervinara will enrich them for years to come.