It’s 5AM and I’m staring at cameras on a shelf, wondering which one to choose, to photograph a shadow. A €2.00 Euro coin, and pottery shards from over 2,000 years ago, crowds the desk, making little room for the cup café latte that will help me through the fog. Winding roads through a park, the scent of the sea and some eerily familiar feeling is slowly receding as the sun pulls its way towards the new day.
“The Salento Peninsula”, she whispers, from her secret grave. Here where the cult of the goddess reigns, where the Mas of the Languedoc becomes between the Masserie of the Salento. Where silent temples rest among fields of wheat and vines. Here is where one can find a sense of Italia Antica, a place where one can reclaim some of that which has been lost by time. Where one might look into an ancient mirror and come face to face with Her.
How easily we are satisfied. All they have to do is find an abandoned building, get some government funding, fix it up a little, a couch here, a television there, maybe an internet connection. Make sure the beach has sand and umbrellas, stock the kitchen with fresh vegetables and seafood, and pasta, always the pasta. And voila, the buen retiro for the traveler or vacation bound is ready.
We were sampling some Falanghina and a few other varieties that will never make it to America, except perhaps New York. How can I have that sort of thought in a place like this?
In a courtyard, in the shade, Arturo and I are talking. Arturo is a man who once lived in New York; he watches the city from the internet now. “How is it someone like Joe Bastianich goes on national TV,” he asks me. “to talk about water?” I tell him we are now a country of city folk obsessed with where our water comes from. “You should worry more about where your oil comes from or those gigantic cars you put them in!” I cannot disagree. But I do wonder if the folks in New York have gotten so distracted that they no longer concern themselves with which wine. “Maybe Joe thinks he can turn water into wine,” Arturo comments. Or maybe water into gold. Wine into gold, wheat into gold, tomatoes, pasta, fish, the whole experience will turn into some golden god that is the fashionable one to worship today. New York, you can have your melted down idol of gold and water. Here, in The Deep South, you'll never touch our goddess.
I get an email from a friend in Manhattan, she tells me that I am sounding a little crazy. “There are many many crazy things,” Sinatra sings, “May I list a few.”
I could stay here for more than these moments will allow. But the road calls, Calabria, Sicily, Tunisia, Malta.
But under the shade of the tree, napping a little, I hear Her, calling from inside the earth. No, they can’t take that away from me.