Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Life's a Beach

Nearing the end of the Italian summer. Those of us who haven’t been there the whole time, all of August, have missed the miracle of summer in Italy. It is a special time when the world lets down its hair, puts the socks and the long pants and the ties in the drawer, and heads for a stretch of solitude, by a stream or by a sea, in search of a moment outside the compressed container of daily life.

And summer life responds. Tomatoes are bursting with flavor and their quintessential redness. Squashes are showing their stretch marks, as if their birth gives birth to another unique creation, which, in the hands of a food lover, will be not just another side dish. Watermelon slips into salads, appears in evening surprise fruit platters, shows up on the kitchen counter as if magically transported from another dimension. All of life is dancing and singing by the edge of the coastline.

Along a small strip of land in Tuscany, near Grossetto, a politician commits young men and women to pack their swimsuits and head to lands to protect people from each other. No more fear of the jellyfish or the sunburn, September’s reality calls. Minefields need to be cleared, towns need to be guarded, women and children must be cared for, their fragile bodies dangling from the line like so many beach towels.

It is becoming hard to imagine a holiday season of wine-selling with these unresolved items. It’s not like we can just redo the menu for the fall, rewrite a wine list, and everything will be OK.

Yesterday, in one of the offices I fall into, a high-level manager, says this: “Holiday time is upon us”, speaking of the march to Christmas and New Year. Yes, we will sell lots of red wine and Champagne, cordials and Cognac, beer and water, from all over the world. One holiday ends, and another looms. One war doesn’t end, yet a handful flare up, spring back into life, like the zucchini and the tomato. Another conflict pops up like the watermelon on the counter. It’s the stuff of life and the people in it. The cycle, the endless pattern of birth and death, seasoned with the salt and pepper of love and hate.

In ancient times, the wine trade often helped to fund someone’s dream to conquer a land far away. Today, that glass of Pinot Grigio or Sangiovese tamps down the daily anxiety after a day of hearing the chatter, the drums, the endless beating of the drums, near and far. And the jets, landing, taking off, flying low, dropping leaflets; buy my wine, read my blog, follow my dream. Read my lips.

Something seems to have fallen off track.

And yet the Italians take one more plunge into the Adriatic, grill one more fish over the open fire, draw one more bottle of wine from the rack, wish one more wish for love and peace and the hope for another summer in Italy.

Links -

Room to Read
Adopt a Minefield


Travel Italy said...


Just think a socialist government willing to take the lead in a peace keeping operation. I think this is a first.

Like Italian wines, the Italian armed forced are all about quality (I am not talking about the LEVA).

So while the world is adding sugar to wine, talking about leading then hiding their heads between their tails, harvesting fruits in far away places before it matures, and making mayonnaise out of sugarwater, the Italians still privilege quality over quantity.

Does this mean that our daily choices define who we are more than a shiny new label?

Alfonso Cevola said...

for some of us....

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