Weeds are Our Friends…

IMG_3465Yes, they are, but…

In 1958, My Father built a new split-level house in Denver, Colorado. It was the only one in our neighborhood. Ranch was the going style locally and not some import from The South. Dad was so proud of it. Even more so of the grass lawn both back & front. A garden contractor arrived one hot & overcast day with a team of guys who, with the latest in machinery, leveled and graded the yards. Then, they dug regimented & shallow ditches with another machine to follow by the laying & covering with Mother Earth of steel tubes for the underground sprinkler system. Like WOW!!! None of that hose business. Once all was sunk & connected, the sod-folk came on to lay strips of what had the modern appearance of wall-to-wall grass. AND FROM THAT MOMENT ON, at the corner of Clayton & Bates east of South University, My Life was dedicated to weeding. Forced labor, I was, friends. And, grotesquely underaged too. My Sister was excused. AND FROM THAT MOMENT ON, I realized the penance of being The First Born Child. Practically every Saturday, while My Sister went to ride her horse/horses, I could be found on My Hands & Knees singularly stabbing the wall-to-wall to uproot… none of that pulling-up stuff to leave the nefarious roots to continue their heinous work of ruining the perfection of wall-to-wall grass… the singularly errant flora, AND REFERRED FROM THAT MOMENT ON as The Weed. Since we were in the very midst of the Cold War, saying Communist was about the only invective worse on The 0-to-10 Scale. Well, perhaps, the plural of weed was right below Commie.

And now look at me… Task Numero Uno at Il Poggiolo is weeding. Happily though, it is an entirely different occupation AND way, way more satisfying on many, many levels from those olden days of stabbing out weeds in Denver. Take your pick… the physical, psychological or even the Spear-itual. Yep, yanking!!! The weeds are ruthlessly yanked-out of their comfortable existence in The Bosom of Mother Earth and are summarily tossed, with a cavalieresque flourish, to The To-burn Pile and away I go to yank some more elsewhere. There is much to do too… 21,000 square feet of much weeding to do.

The mindset has not change though. I am still much ingrained to the 50’s idea that weeds foul the landscape with their chaos & mayhem, green though they may be, and as they once did to that carpet of green grass in DEN. I feel dejected even today, when I see My Adored Plants… viburnum, alloro, quinze, box-woods, You’s peonies!!! being strangled by weeds. Yet, I am mature enough to recognise, what with the incessant local rains, weeds act as excellent ground cover & guarantor against soil erosion. They also produce cheerful & tiny flowers gayly announcing… Spring is here!!! I wish a sunny sky would but, never mind. Oh! And though You said weeds house snakes… YIKES!!! Everyone breathe… only the green & safe garden variety are around… I discovered the unwanted & gangly grasses also offer a lush refuge to Our More Delightful Fauna… a rolled-up porcupine!!! How cute, no? Now, I am not sure if I ought to continue yanking. Walt Disney may do a PIXAR film about me terrorizing adorable & innocent porcupines. Gads.


Sunshine graced our road to…

…Codiponte! Well, with intermittent shots of water on the A-12 autostrada. Yet, no sooner had my feet touched Our Stretch of Mother Earth was I not bowled-over by color… Spring Color…










But, so much for the fluff. I’ll be weeding until at least June!!! Gads.

Low resistance…


You & I went to Codiponte last weekend. We were there just shy more than 24 hours. The weather was gorgeous. So gorgeous, it hurt to leave, even for You, on Sunday afternoon. Naturally, on our way back to Genoa, we hit a wall of traffic at Rapallo. It is the exit for Portofino & Santa Margherita. Suddenly, you notice that 90% of the cars whose rear-end are nearly in your face have MI tags. That’s for Milan. We don’t like the Milanesi. Sorry. You & I are Genoese snobs. F.Y.I… the Milanesi come in three versions when on the autostrada… grotesquely large AND black SUVs racing through the tunnels & curves at 160 kph… that is nearly 100 mph!!!… silver-grey late-model Ford Focus… I would have written the plural form of focus which is foci but, that looks & sounds so un-Ford… with nasty scarps down the driver’s side from some errantly judged maneuver… like parking!!!… or, beat-up FIATS from the 90s.

We accomplished much in Our Short Time. The first stop was at Our Nursery.






This is always dangerous and was certainly so after You pipped up with The Query… Should we stop? He needn’t have asked. We always do. You did have in mind for us to buy a cherry tree which blossoms in the spring but bears no fruit in the summer. Fine. One less marmalade I have the pleasure to run-over with the lawn-mower. We encountered frustration almost immediately. The nursery did not have the variety of cherry-blossom-tree You had rolling around inside his funny head. We did manage to conclude the satisfactory negotiations for a weeping cherry-blossom-tree… very Japanese looking flora… a cherry blossom bush… risking cherry over-kill… and a HUGE dogwood-tree to add to the other two struggling down on Our Scenic Overlook. The poor things… their roots have about a meter of debris to wiggle past… the landslide-saving cushion… before striking Good Ol’ Mother Earth…. Bless Her Nutrient Rich Dirt!!!

I will head south this coming weekend to continue the transplanting of the rest of the haul of lavender plants… there are about 80 deserving of A New home up on that Slope… thwarted by the rhythm of the 1st of March to Easter downpours… and to find suitable spots for the three items of vegatation mentioned above. One now Standard Procedure is the nearer I come to Departure for Codiponte Day, My Task List triplicates in length. Gads.

Why I do it…

In a post-Easter visit, some friends & friends of those friends passed through Codiponte on their way home… and it had stopped raining long enough for Question-time, darn-it… one of the friends of friends asked why we put up with the bother to rent-out Il Poggiolo? It seemed to be such a personal AND private home for You & I. Yes but…







…the bother pays the taxes on the place, I wanted to fire-off. Oddly for me, I didn’t. I managed something else quite unusual for me… I paused to reflect a moment. And, in that 7.2 seconds of keeping My Big Mouth shut, I noticed we all were standing beside this…


… the little Easter Bunny Hut left by the Irish Paying-guests… my heart melted to reply…

I do it because I really enjoy meeting the people who come to stay at Il Poggiolo.

No foolin’.

The Irish who camped out in L’Appartamento Azzurro for the Easter Rains were a Mom & Dad & two Grown-girls. They were interesting, lively, appreciative, non-invasive and I got a kick out of their lilting accents while we chatted in front of the fire or outside under an umbrella. From the minute I discovered there are two Bar Mario in Aulla… they had accidentally discovered the original one in downtown metropolitan Aulla, whereas I knew only of the Bar Mario at the autostrada exit… until our parting Hugs & Euro-kissing, these four perked up Our Life & Times at Il Poggiolo and in a 4-day downpour. Can’t beat that!

I thought back to My First Paying-guests, an Australian couple from Cairns, four years ago. They were interesting, lively, appreciative, non-invasive and I got a kick out of their Hey, mate! How’re ya? accents. And from the minute I learned Cairns is in Queensland… below what would correspond to the Baja California peninsula, if you could flip Australia to imagine it as the US… until our Good-byes the night before they left… at 5 in the morning!!!… the two graciously allowed me to share something important of myself… Il Poggiolo.

My doors are not being knocked down… yet. But still, I look forward to new Paying-guests. Just this morning, I received an inquiry from another Australian couple wishing to spend a week at L’Appartamento Azzurro, mixing a vacation in the Lunigiana with business in Europe. I quickly dashed off an e-mail to reassure them that… Yes, there’s Internet!

And, yesterday morning, an American woman confirmed her booking for the entire Poggiolo in June. Its posh title is… La Casa Padronale. I had met her last year, while I tackled the weeds on that famous Upper Slope… You said tall grasses attract snakes!!!… and she was tugged by a cousin & summer-time Codiponte resident needing help with, naturally, English-Italian translation. This year she’s bringing her family, who have never seen where & how their Italian relations lived… above Codiponte.

And, again in June, a couple who hale from the same town in North Carolina as My Mother have reserved L’Appartamento Azzuro for 10 whole days of… and get this for expanding one’s horizons… playing golf. Gives me the idea of building a putting green on our Scenic Overlook of the yonder Commie House rather than the mega-public works of a swimming pool… and on a slope too. Anyway, they should be new & different and hopefully fun.

So, come on dear Paying-guests. Can’t wait to meet ya’!!! Gads.


On a rainy day…


What to do on a rainy day at Il Poggiolo? Read. Well, I do once I’ve got a fire going, the dogs fed & walked and the house put back into order, i.e. the bed’s made. Then, I read.

I have complained much about The Wretched Weather during My Three-weeks-in-March-the-coldest-&-rainiest-darn-Winter-in-50-years Stay at Il Poggiolo. I left the warm & dry confines of Our Genoese Apartment for the hoped-for Great Outdoors of doing yard-work nel Poggiolo’s Garden. T’was all for naught, thanks to Mr & Mrs Cold & Wet. That couple allowed only four days of work. One and a half was in a light drizzle. I accomplished much though and have nothing truthfully to complain about… 80 lavender plants dug-up & re-planted on the upper slope… pruned away the damage of three heavy snow-falls… cypress trees & one olive-tree anchored against the cruel north winds… and other sundry Tasks on The List.

During the innumerable three-to-four days of being stuck inside waiting for some sunshine, I galloped through My Current Read. What book? Well…

In Italian, French AND a bit of German too! Here’s the gist of all that… the story is written in Italian, conversations between the aristocrats which, they make up 90% of the characters in the book, are in French and, that smattering of German is for wonderfully brief communications between the Russians with their Austrian allies… Wir haben den Kreig verloren!… or some such Germanic folderol.

I am so very proud of myself! Once over The Hump at around Page 37-38… darn hard to accustom myself to A) NO PRONOUNS since, in Italian, they are disguised in the verbs, B) semi-colons, semi-colons, semi-colons and maybe a comma, and C) the frustration of not finding several critical Italian words in My Pocket Italian-English Dictionary, bought 26 years ago before stepping aboard TWA for Europe/Life-in-Italy, etc, leaving me in doubt about the escapades of Natasha!!!… I happily rock-on in all three languages. Hardly even care that there’s a deluge going on outside. But, in any case, and Thank God too, there are convenient translations at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, how could I decipher what Pierre had said to Natasha about what Anatolie had done with her while her fiancee, Prince Andrei, was at War??? Gads.