Signs of spring
by Laura A
Two weeks ago it was snowing. Now it’s spring. I’ve always said that I should shouldn’t expect too much from living in Italy until spring, so it’s nice that it seems to be coming early. And here are some of the things I like:
- We have doors that open onto balconies. And we’ve been keeping them open. It makes the apartment feel bigger. We can hear people talking and smell dinners cooking. But it’s normal noise, not cars with their stereos turned up so loudly that they set off car alarms, like in New York.
- We have more light. It bounces off the walls, hits your shoulders and feels warm. It lingers longer in the evenings. Sometimes it looks magical.
- I can see stars, more than in New York at least. I haven’t been out on the balconies to look that much yet, because it’s still cold, but I’m starting to stand out there for a few minutes when I close the shutters at night. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see them again even just for a few minutes.
- I’ll be able to plant herbs. We had herbs in New York, on the roof deck, but these will be right outside the kitchen door.
- I can hang out laundry. Just for the sheer novelty of it, and to get it out of the bathroom. Italians are big believers in airing things out and putting them in the sun.
- School will be over, or better, soon. This has been a tough year for Sarie. She’s always trying to play catch up, and never knows what’s going on with her conservatory schedule until the last minute (this is partly language, but partly just the way things are). But after her AP exam in early May, she should have more breathing room.
- Bob is reading. I missed that. Moving, learning a new language, and starting a new job can be exhausting, so sometimes you just don’t have the energy even to read something for fun.
- It’s gelato time! Italians like getting ice cream as much as New Yorkers like sitting in sidewalk cafes. Both will start their preferred activities before it’s really warm enough. Today as I started on a walk, I noticed a trickle of people coming in my direction licking ice cream cones. Soon they formed a steady stream, and by the time I got to knots of people eating ice cream and talking, I knew wasn’t far from the source. For a minute I thought there had been an accident, because I saw a crowd gathered near an ambulance, but no, the paramedics were just getting ice cream, too. The line at the gelateria was out the door.
- The park is crowded. I went for a long walk in Parco Valentino, which was packed. People had staked out small territories with blankets, and at the edges, there were small soccer games going on. It reminded me of the Great Lawn and Turtle Pond in our old “backyard” near E. 80th St., where we used to spend weekends with Sarie when she was small.
- I’m starting to understand the language! As I walked through the park, I heard little snatches of talk, and much to my surprise, I understood some of almost every conversation. In New York, I used to like to collect little snippets of what people were saying as I walked by, because it made for an entertaining cross section of city life. Among things of Italian I heard yesterday: “Are you hurt?” a dad called to a preteen girl who fell off her skateboard. “It’s a dead leaf,” another dad sighed, to a toddler who was apparently picking up everything in his path and asking what it was. “Bagna cauda at our house?” said one couple to another as they finished their walk. And my favorite, growled by a ponderously stomping little boy, whose grandma was obviously ruining his game of being a fierce dinosaur: “No, I don’t want you to give me a kiss!”
Not a bad start to spring! And it’s only February.