All The World Is Green

Alright, so I’m on this farm, isolated somewhere on an already isolated Italian island, and the central question here, since my arrival, has been: “am I a masochist?” Though surrounded by considerable beauty and a degree of kindness, I’m not sure if reduction – that is, simplifying things from want to need based on a model that is rather typically selfish, yet coupled with a not-quite-as-typical-as-normal sense of materialism – allows for more time spent devoted to ruminating on these matters, or less, rather, but the point is that I am thinking of them over my summer vacation.

I think of them on the 1.5 hour bike, midday bikeride under a vicious sun to a beach at which I spend five minutes, pedaling up and down hills all day before arriving, by night, at an unmarked dirt rode peppered by countless unmarked outlets and even more cacti. Cacti?
I think of them, lugging 40-50kg adobe bricks all over, what, 1,000 square feet of private homeowner terrain before a rather familiarly attractive, if unspectacular backdrop of Southeast Sardegna, a place I traveled 36 hours and spent most of my savings for.

I think of them while listening to my host, a middle-aged non-Sardo Italian who likens himself to a sort of pastoral Flanders, for all of his piousness, which is seemingly undoubtable, and for his cool temperament, which is of course evident whenever he explodes in fits at his impossibly intelligent, patient, and equally unattractive wife over matters simple and, to be even more frank, rather chauvenistic.

I do also think of them as I build a house, by hand, in Italian, which is an experience you don’t often find where I come from. Alas. I have catapulted myself into a land three times foreign, once by territory, twice by proximity or geography, and thrice by mentality. If this what I wanted of my vacation, I got it.

My arrival on Friday was nice enough, finding a small, sunburned family waiting shoeless at the lunch table, which was covered with mussels, octopus, and pesto. By Sunday’s return from the beach, I found a scene that was slightly Felliniesque, were he to ever have turned his eye on this jolly old barnyard. As the patriarch of the family held his spiritual meeting in that pristine, professionally-built home on the outskirts of the farmland (unused in favor of their mud shack, interestingly enough), I was greeted, one-by-one, by a flurry of characters, each one warm, each curious, each colored a different shade. The slightly squishy, slightly precocious little girl with her eye on the glamour of Hollywood, picking caterpillars from the trees; the trunk-built, Danish pastor, who finds himself here after many travels of “healing” around the world, and who is incidentally the first person I’ve found to speak English, which is his only language outside of Danish; there is the leathery, white-haired couple who peer at me heartily through stained teeth, recalling their time, thirty years ago, in Houston, swearing that Redding, California is the present mecca for God’s touch, for the miraculous cures that have been occurring there; there is the bronzed, bandana-topped single mother of the caterpillar girl and at least three others of that gender, who leads each into an oxidized blue minivan, yet never says a word; there is the matriarch of the farm, who grims through all of this occurring at her house as if she didn’t welcome it at all; there is me, covered desperately in fat, sticky mosquito bites, sleeping fourteen hours per day, living within the expressive limits of his broken Italian, clinging to his time alone, fighting to comprehend any of the above.

Today, as I was guided by a fellow visiting volunteer farmer, a dreadlocked Sicilian, though the plot of land gifted to the farmowners’ green-eyed daughter, who he has been seemingly banging over his two months here, and to whom, incidentally, he seems to be bethrothed by his religious host (uh-oh), I was reminded again, indeed, how foreign this land was, and to what extent they’ve made it moreso. What a sentence that was: phew. Here, the horse feeds from a retired pisspot. Water is heated for the house from a butterflied refrigerator. Holes are dug, then filled by rusty oil drums, then forgotten, as other dead appliances mingle nearby. Baths next door are taken in holey porcelain, but outdoors, amongst the trees. Conversations are ever-political, ever-epic, ever explicit. Well, nearly.

With a walk through the garden, I’m shown the bounty that this land offers her guests: “zucchone,” they say, gesturing toward zucchini plants bigger, more succulent than I’ve ever seen. “Pomodori,” they say, pointing to the vines snaking their way, spearmint green, amongst the rest. I keep seeing these spender, spiky plants, maple leaves without a tree, or fruit, or flower, almost plasticine in their perfection, and after the tenth plant, I have no choice but to ask after their identity. My hosts look at one another, smiles shaking nervously in the slight breeze: “pomodori,” they say. They are not mentioned again.

~ by nearhelsinki on June 28, 2011.

One Response to “All The World Is Green”

  1. Great stuff my friend, I wish I was there, sounds awesome. Keep them coming! CB

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