After weeks of 90 degree temperatures, suddenly summer is over. The bands have packed up, everyone is back at work, the streets have emptied of tourists as families prepare for school, the grape harvest is about to begin, and the familiar “Che caldo!!” has given way to “Che freddo.” Of course it’s not really cold. Today it’s 70 degrees and beautiful. But it is a bit of a shock after walking barefoot over the cool tiles of the house to wake up one morning and find them freezing. Along with the chill came rain. We’ve had a week of grey and drizzle and showers. I can see that soon I’ll have to close my windows, and already I smelled the first fireplace at work. And as much as I bitch about hanging my laundry outside, I hate to think about the winter days when I’ll be forced to dry it inside without the benefit of the Tuscan wind and sunshine working their magic. Today as I hung out my sheets, you could see steam rising off of them in the cool, crisp morning.
I did my usual scan of the mercato today and began looking at winter shoes and coats. I’m not ready to buy them, defiantly determined to wear my sandals for at least a few more weeks, but I must at least get prepared. When I pass a table with slippers, I can’t resist. The thought of a winter of cold stone floors has me grabbing for my wallet. The man with the slippers points out that they are perfumed and invites me to sniff them. They do have a lovely coconut fragrance that Cinder seems to enjoy. As for me, I’m just happy to have my feet toasty…even if it means I just took my first step toward becoming an Italian housewife.
Now that I’ve been here five months, a trip to the mercato is much more pleasurable than when I first arrived. I spend time each week chatting with my favorite vendors and catching up. Pippo, the fruit vendor that my neighbor, Marinella, introduced me to when I first arrived is back after being gone all summer. I have a bit of a dilemma now since while he was away I became friendly with another vendor. Now I try to give them both a little business, but if I’m honest, Pippo’s produce is better. He was gone all summer because he was cultivating the fruit in Sicily that I get to buy now. I know it’s crazy to wax rhapsodic about apples and peaches, but honestly they are amazing! Pippo gave me a peach as I was leaving today, and when I had to return to the market later in the morning with Marinella, because she’d given me a ride to get some paperwork accomplished, he presented me with a bag of grapes. Some men give you flowers and others…fruit! Mi piace!
Cinder and I walked home on a pretty wooded path where the leaves are beginning to turn, and look forward to experiencing another season in Italia.