These trees, a family of hundreds, planted on this escarpment overlooking the Ionian, never to leave, never to see the wonders of Florence, Venice or the Vatican. Left out in the sun, the wind, the heat, the cold, the snow, the silence.
In a region where nature and man can often be at odds with each other, in this case, nature is the dominant force, an enduring victory over the desires and schemes of mankind. In this place the trees have developed a marked individuality. You can see it on the trunks, in their stance, their posture, in the arc of their long life. In years where the wind was such an immense force that the trees could only bow to its will to survive, one sees trees of inordinate strength and humility. There is a lesson in every one of these tress for someone. Shock, glee, power, suppleness. Will, resilience, endurance, hope. Illness, striving, disappointment, recovery.
Packs of friendly dogs patrol the ground, chasing the occasional fox that wanders into the orchard. The soil is fertile and springy, residue from centuries of olives leaves, fruit and branches that have fallen. And while the artifacts of man are crumbling and lying dormant and comatose, this ancient family of olive trees, once planted by the same men as built the villa and the chapel, live on. Tethered to this place, as good as any other place, consecrated by the remarkable resolve this orchard of ancient olive trees have contributed to the patrimony of Calabria.
Author’s note: While Calabria and most of Southern Italy is still struggling socially and economically and there are still many issues that haven’t been resolved in my, my father’s and my grandfather’s lifetimes, there is a natural energy that precluded the human condition and the drama that is harvested from it. My intent in this post is not to focus on social issues; that is for another time. This post is meant to bring light to a timeless beauty, created by Nature and helped (a little) by the hand of men and women.
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