tuscan farms

Understanding Green

by admin on March 17, 2009

I haven’t stopped thinking about my visit to the country….and the people who I met. When I think back, I feel as if it were all a dream…people don’t really live like that anymore. But then I glance up and see the tin of extra virgin olive oil that they generously bestowed on me as I was leaving and realize….it was not a dream…it was real…..actually more real then any real I have known before…and that is why it feels like a dream.

I have to say my thoughts are not all pleasant….there is the beauty of the experience but there is also a nagging…you know when something just doesn’t feel right but you’re not quite sure why….that’s it…that’s the feeling that is shrouding the experience……at first I thought it might have been the pigeon as I still can’t look one in the eye…but then I quickly realized that it was more then that….much more then that….my thoughts kept bringing me back to green….sustainability.

We are a world that is yearning to be green….fighting for the survival of our planet. We are recycling…buying local…using solar…..downgrading our cars…..and buying very cool shopping bags to carry our groceries home. You hear individuals almost bragging about how green they are…..and businesses, including ours, let everyone know they are green…it’s everywhere…hey look at me….I’m green. And on this farm, in the Tuscan countryside, it was no where. There were no color coded recycling bins….no “green is the new black” stickers on the windows…and no assortment of groovy grocery bags hanging in the kitchen….no….none of that. There was no talk at the table of “sustainability” or “green” practices….there was just laughter….and love…and the best vin santo I have ever tasted.

And as I sat on the wrong train going home that day, I began to process it all….the pigs in the pens…and the pigs on the salt table…the chicken and pigeons feathered and hanging in the room off the kitchen…for tomorrow’s dinner…..the ten “tail ends” of the pig hanging in the other room off of the dining room….with names on each…as its divided among the neighbors…and the same with the salami….there was the huge clump of pig lard hanging to be used to moisturize hands, gloves and boots….ah…and of my favorite…the attic….where the wine was kept…with the vin santo…and the grappa….in old wooden barrels crusted over with dried juices dating back 63 years….and the drying mats for the figs….so beautifully made….and the jar of anice that is sprinkled on the figs when they dry….the figs were so sweet..like candy…yet soft enough to almost melt in your mouth….yes, I thought about all of this….and the eggs in the basket in the dining room….one with chicken eggs, one with turkey…and the cavolo nero….a green that grows wild in their fields…that they picked that day for our salad…and the milking cows….laying in the sun….yes, all of this went through my head on the wrong train home.

The wrong train?….oh crap…the wrong train!…as I came back to the scene outside my window, I realized that I was leaving the City that I loved so much….and…ah….that I lived in..oh man…I’m on the wrong train….I jumped off at the next stop, figuring a train would be going the other way…right?…ya just not for quite some time….and the station was desolate…I only hoped I had it right this time…

And so I sat….just me and my tin of olive oil…..with the sun beginning to fade and the air beginning to chill…and as I sat on the bench…completely alone…overlooking Florence and its countryside…..my thoughts ran right back to my new friends…

Isn’t it ironic that we cry for green yet we allow a life style that is truer to green then anything most of us will ever know, die out. Yes…die out. We are not allowing the most sustainable to be sustained. There is a myriad of reasons why their infrastructure is breaking down but the bottom line is that it becomes less and less feasible to live a sustainable lifestyle….even for people who have lived this way for generations. There is something so ironic about this….something so wrong. We should be celebrating these people…learning from them…and the past…..doing what we can to ensure their lifestyle will continue…so we can continue.

Honestly, I think we may be too busy shopping at whole foods…and our local farmers market…and looking cool with the latest green bag….to notice….and I am speaking to myself so please don’t get offended….but that day, in the Tuscan countryside, I noticed…and I cannot forget…no matter how many glasses of Chianti that I consume…I cannot forget…and I don’t want to forget…I want to grab hold of every piece of that farm, that existence, those people…and not let them go…it’s something carnal…as if I have awakened a part of me…that we all must have….that yearns for the simplicity of this existence….I want to go back…and sleep beneath the hanging prosciutto, in the room with the attic to the elixir of course…and wake up at sunrise…and well..I don’t know…whatever you do on a farm first thing…and work hard…with my hands..outside..and eat what grows around me…at a table filled with love and laughter…and ah..yes..vin santo!….and at the end of the day, feel the exhaustion and the satisfaction that comes with a physical days work….and curl up…back under the prosciutto for a peaceful nights rest.

I’m pretty tough…but not that tough. These people are amazing souls..and they deserve to be supported and sustained. And although I want to set up camp and live the life of these farmers…and find out everything there is to know about their way of life…and preserve it in some way…I also know that my reality is providing for my family…in the way that I know best….and taking from this a bit more knowledge….and understanding….to not try to be “green” but just try to live in harmony with the earth…using common sense….like they have since the beginning of time.

And as the right train pulls up to the station….I grab my tin of extra virgin olive oil, climb on board and sit quietly close to the door. I watch the City of Florence as it slowly comes back into view….while the last heat from the setting sun warms my face…I smile….it feels good to be home.

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