A watery wonder…

IMG_5322The fish must need more O2. They come up to the surface of their pond and sip air and not at Cocktail Time either. Then they retreat to the comfort of their pond plants. Concerned, I cruised amazon.it for a photo-voltaic bubbler thing, a fountain, something to agetate the water a bit in the fish’s pond. Stir up the ol’ O2. Found one that floats. Hot-diggity-dog! And for ONLY Euro 30. I had to brake and hard though. The obstruction was the 1st review of 33. I am amazed at how many folk take the time to write a review and for amazon.it too. A world of self-service is the progenitor now of one conditioned to leave reviews? To where will it lead? The 5-line blurb said the (presumed) Chinese manufactured piece of floating spray equipment was… well, in my less than polite language… a piece of shit. A rough translation of the Italian. Don’t buy it! added at the end was an unequivocally more direct message of WARNING!!!  The next review glowed with a Good Report. What’s The Real Truth here? Only alternation and vulgar hyperbole? Yep. The next reiterated the opinion of the first review in a tone much akin to the relief someone might feel right after having struggled and then launched a mechanical… or cybernetic… annoyance out the window and at a passing car. Ouch. I became undecided. Then, far, far, away, a little voice said to me… It’s ONLY Euro 30. Take a chance. Go for it. So I did. Hit Acquista ora and 2-days later a box was laid at my door-step. Assembled in a jiffy, it works. Tinkling water. Yeah!!! Not like Versailles but, it works. We are happy. Gosh. Its spray may keep mosquitoes away too. Even more happiness. Gads.

Bean Patch redux…


Lookie here! Nearly at the end of April and Our Little Bean Man has been diligently working on this year’s Bean Patch while I was away. I left for America on the 2nd of the month and the plot of land was over-run with a good crop of Winter’s weeds. Upon my return to the fair village of Codiponte on April 17th and the Bean Patch’s terreno had been ably turned, graded and long rows dug too. Ran into Our Little Bean Man out walking The Dogs. I told him of my enthusiasm for his Bean Architecture. He smiled and replied… Mi diverto. So here starts our fun too, the four month odyssey of watching beans grow and grow and grow to the sky! Gads.

Flowers before Liberation Day…

A medley of Il Poggiolo’s first floral efforts on this day before Italy’s Liberation Day. Stores are open, Thank God. Restaurants are busy for pranzi. Folk come to Codiponte to pass the holiday, Spring’s true start, and to mainly shake-out Winter from the rafters. Gads.







































Our summer’s weather…

Not that I am a farmer, far from it, but I do watch & worry about the weather. My favourite grandmother, who WAS one and responsible for acres and acres and acres of agricultural land in the fine State of South Carolina, began each letter to me with a description of the most recent weather. Then, she’d change subjects by encouraging me to get better grades in school. She was an elementary school teacher back in nought-seven. Her messages always concluded with… C-‘s are not acceptable. You CAN do better. Your father was a good student and never got a C- in his life. Oh, well… Can we please go back to talking about the weather?

IMG_4447This past weekend’s weather forecast was not a good one for the arrival of You, a favoured niece and her new boy-friend. These last two were instantly indentured to working in the kitchen to prepare meals. They seemed happy to do so. You proceeded with a new Garden Inspection. Those spiffily dressed Capitani del Meteo at RAI-TV had predicted a 70% chance of rain showers for Friday night and all day Saturday. OK, we’ll move furniture around. What we got instead was last summer’s cap of heavy, sodden clouds, muggy temps and NO RAIN!!! Yet, had we hopped over the hill to Monzone and Gragnola, we would’ve discovered that they and their sister villages all got a soaking. Those same meteorological geniuses had also predicted a splendidly sunny Sunday. At least that. But no. The sun did not splendere until we had exited the autostrada back in Genoa on our return to urban civilisation. It was cold too.

I’m a pessimist and I fear the worst for Our Summer 2015. I think the weather wants to tug back to last year’s boring bouts of short-spells of s-u-n and HOT, HOT, HOT weather and LONG, LONG, LONG stretches of cloudy, muggy days with NO RAIN!!! The wonderful lady in Codiponte, who helps me in il Poggiolo’s garden… she specialises in roses while her husband prunes the fruit & olive trees… complained to me of fungus, as we tied new bamboo to the rose pergola on the ramp beside the Esseccatoio. Her complaining included comments on last year’s grape & olive vendemmie. They were non-existent, thanks to the fungus invasion brought on by pollution mixed with humidity and not enough s-u-n. Her summation was to point to a nearby hedge of pitosfero… a waxy leaf plant with a small creamy white flower packing a power-scent of honeysuckle… to demonstrate the fresh tell-tale signs of fungus. Yep. Yellowed leaves with tiny brown spots. Fungus. I HATE it. Means I’ll have to spray and soon. Gads.

What gardening is to me…

I’ve returned home to Italy. You was happy to see me back in the bosom of Our Family. He was even happier when I unpacked his geeefts from USA. Amazing the effect a package of Jockey V-neck T-shirts can provoke. You liked the other stuff too. Ditto for the Dogs. It did require some time for those two Weimaraners to truly understand and accept that I was the me they had remembered before I had abandoned them to someone else for their twice daily w-a-l-k-s. They kept sniffing my breath for a couple of hours afterwards for The Undeniable Confirmation. I guess there are worse ways to be identified. Nina, ye of little faith, now follows me wherever I go. And where do I go? Into the garden, of course!

Winter killed a ton of lavender. And typically, some geraniums were dried to a crispy brown perfection though safely stored away from the elements. And, for some odd reason, a gardenia was reduced to a similar state. Nothing to do but to head to the local nursery… on the crest of a hill, the steep grade requiring 1st gear all the way to the top… for replacements, substitutions and additions to il Poggiolo’s plant life.


While tootling through the Lunigiana country-side, the top down in the FIAT… sun shinning, birds singing, a light breeze from the SW… I meditated upon the question of what gardening is for me. The musings circulated around comparing my ambitions to those of my American friends whom I know are passionate about perennials, trowels, fertilisers, and such. I spoke with one while in the States who had just been awarded the distinction of A Master Gardner. She had completed a two month course for the honoured certificate. How can someone be A Master Gardner after only two months of study? You need a lifetime… at least! Two months ain’t enough time to instruct on a few of the mainstays of Italian gardening… the phases of the Moon, what’s good to do on a cloudy day and what not to do when the winds hark from a weird direction, as they have been doing since 2001… much less on how to deal with an uncooperative lawn-mower. My exercises lead me to the following conclusion: I care for just two sure-fire gardening tasks: sinking plants into Mother Earth and cutting her grass every Thursday. That’s it. I suppose A Master Gardener has to like weeding, spraying for disease and/or fungus and extracting dead plants to go to all the trouble of obtaining a certificate, for crying out loud! And, God Bless, I do not need a certificate to do what I love to do. Those other tedious tasks I tackle, but only after a rare power breakfast.

As you can see, I have some work to do this afternoon but first, a nap. Gads.

Dreaming of Il Poggiolo…

I am in America. The country becomes more alien yet addictive with each visit. I feel at home because of its conveniences. What irritates are the size of the grocery stores, the constant onslaught of TV drug ads and cars so HUGE that an on-coming SUV often blocks out the sun’s rays. Not for me.

IMG_1057My real home is Il Poggiolo. In Italy. And after all I have said about You and his darn stuff, I cannot believe what I am about to write… All the stuff I truly love is in our Tuscan farm-house. A list: my books… would literature apply here?… on Russian & English history, airplanes & airports too and non-fiction enough to cause others to yawn and now must be dusted: pieces of furniture I adore, like the 1820’s armoire and its faux-streaked finish and its creaky doors, my 1890’s drop-down desk which probably weighs more than the house’s structure wants to bear and the 1960’s one-legged wood table in L’Appartamento Azzurro’s bathroom, a prototype from some famous Italian designer whose name I can not ever call up and might not want to since, the thing is really just an unstable and thus, a useless object in the corner; certain pictures on the walls, mostly on a Virgin Mary theme and our collection of animal heads all named Boris; and finally, those plates… a recent gift from You’s adventure to Udine’s network of flea-markets… with pineapples dancing on their borders. Did you know a pineapple is a symbol of hospitality? Must be You’s hint for us to host an Il Poggiolo Party.

IMG_2910Separation from Il Poggiolo creates the most intense dreams but not of My Stuff. No. The nocturnal visuals are of Il Poggiolo’s stones, rocks, what have you. And, no matter if they make a house wall, a garden buttress or courtyard pavement. Lots of grey with mottled bits of moss. I swirl and fly and graze feeling their cool, static state of my house & garden’s permanence. Well, baring any recurrence of an earthquake or deluge. I guess I am seeking reassurance the house remains, waiting for me, my flights a check before returning to wake-up my 110 kilo body from its tossing & turnings in a King-size bed at 3:41AM wide-awake. Nothing to do but savour the arrival with a very early morning cup of coffee and turn on the TV to find out what the day’s weather is going to be like. Gads.


IMG_4814A lovely, radiant, shinning person. That little grey-haired woman seated in the middle of the crowd at last year’s Sagra dei Pomi in Codiponte.


She passed away last Wednesday. 97 years young.

She left us with memories of her smile… her fine presence… her irrepressible sense of life & fun.

Thank you, Emma.