Saturday, May 4, 2013

roots and things

It's Saturday evening. I've returned from a meeting of The Italian Cultural Society of Taos at mondo italiano restaurant and found this photo message from my son in Connecticut.
He makes wine. It's good. Spring has arrived in southern Connecticut. I tell him that I'm planning to fly east in a few weeks. I tell him about the meeting where we talked about Italian citizenship and that I've become a member. I asked: why do I want to become an Italian citizen? Then I remember that no matter how many generations have passed, even if your parents, grandparents, great grandparents were long time citizens of the USA and loved it, and you are thoroughly American, you still have a connection to Italy. Once an Italian, always an Italian. I've written about this. The unreasonable feeling of exile from the homeland, which just happens to be Italy which you may or may not have ever visited, with a language you don't speak, and a history that isn't yours. Or maybe it's just that almost everyone who has ever been there loves Italy. The food, the art, the people. I have an Irish friend with an Italian soul. Her mother took her to live in Italy for three years when she was thirteen, and she feel in love with an Italian boy. Maybe he was from Sicily, maybe northern Italy. It doesn't matter. Fifty years later she thinks of him fondly and wonders....and she's still in love with the country...has gone back often....
In that same mode: I remember as a child in New York in Spring....Italians lined the roadsides cutting dandelion leaves for salads and to add to dishes with olive oil and garlic. Sharp knives, grocery sacks, bent over, big butts and small -- quite a sight as we sped by in our cars -- dandelions the focus, not self-consciousness. Dandelions were not a noxious weed to be poisoned, but a delicacy briefly gathered and enjoyed. The bitter taste of young dandelion leaves enhanced iceberg lettuce when it was the only lettuce they could find in the local produce stores. I eschewed it -- a child snob. It took years before I could appreciate and understand the mystery of dandelion leaves. And then I became temporarily obsessed. I made dandelion wine, quoted on the label words Ray Bradbury had written in his memoir "Dandelion Wine". I gave the bottles of wine as gifts. One nasty gallery owner (where Ron's work was selling) said, "I hate dandelion wine." So much for her. What goes around comes around and her day came. Then my neighbor Dorothy gave me her recipe for dandelion jelly, I made jars and jars and they were given away, accepted gracefully, and enjoyed.
On Monday, when I visited Dorothy in her new digs, she had jars of dandelion jelly on her kitchen counter. With my friends Bonnie and Marge we bought out her extra inventory! I'm looking forward to opening the first jar. Toast, lamb,'s good and I appreciate the yellow flowers that are currently taking over my driveway...hardy plants that shoot up through layers of gravel. Lovely!

No comments:

Post a Comment