Warm-weather routine

This week it has suddenly become hot in Torino. It makes me realize that the seasons have almost fully changed and my routine has changed, too:

We open the doors, but close the shutters, at night.  In the morning, I keep them closed on the east side of the apartment, so that my kitchen and study don’t heat up quickly.  We don’t have air-conditioning, but we have good ventilation, so I’m hopeful that we’ll get used to not having it.  I get a cup of coffee, make some toast, and go read my Bible, pray, and write in my journal. And there’s a bird, undoubtedly a Blackbird, because it sounds like an American Robin, that sings every morning before dawn.

Right after we’re finished with breakfast and hot water for showers, I start a load of wash.  If I get the clothes out on the line by late morning, they may be dry by early afternoon. Sometimes I do a second load at night, after the electricity rates go down.  But since I can only run one major appliance at a time (besides the refrigerator), sometimes another appliance wins out. Usually, if I get up in the middle of the night, I remember to turn the water heater back on.

Clothes started, I go food shopping.  The markets are in the peas, spinach and asparagus season now.  Cucumbers, ox heart tomatoes, and even melons are starting to appear. There are always lots of interesting salad greens, mostly bitter ones. I never have quite figured out what to do with the barba di frate, though.  I think it’s almost finished, so perhaps I should.

Image

Barba di frate (image by Stefan Proud) from Wikipedia commons

Sarie and I often watch Khan Academy videos during lunch.  Lately we’ve been watching cosmology/astronomy videos.  One day we got started investigating possible shapes of the universe–flat, sphere, and hyperbolic plane.  If the universe has four dimensions, you should be able to see the same stars in two places, albeit at different times.  Whoa.

In the afternoon, I do e-mail, or whatever desk work that needs doing.  I’m still working on that conservatory business. I’m planning for next year’s school.  I help Sarie with whatever she needs help with.

Then I do some cleaning, more shopping, some project, or perhaps even an ice-cream walk.  Sarie sometimes has classes in the afternoon.  I try to make some time to read, screen-free.  Then I start dinner.

Now that it’s warm out, the people whose apartments face our courtyard have their windows and doors open all day and often all night.  I hear renovation going on across the alley. I hear the upholsterer’s staples. I hear dishes at lunch (1:30) and dinner (8:00).  I hear people talking on the phone, and sometimes I even understand what they say.  I hear soccer matches on TV.

And there’s white fluff floating everywhere.  It floats past our windows.  It floats inside and piles up in the corners until I sweep it away.  It lands on the table during dinner.  It started on Monday.

All day, I hear socializing, and especially people calling for Angelo.  I’ve now figured out that Angelo is the balding man who wears rubber boots and runs the car wash behind our building.  Across the courtyard I often hear a toddler who stays with her grandmother all day. Today just before lunch the little girl stood out on the balcony calling, “An-ge-wo!  AAAAN-ge-wooooooooe!!!”  Of course Angelo showed up under her balcony, like Romeo.  Who wouldn’t?

We’re starting to experience the long daylight that comes with a European latitude.  It’s light when I wake up, and it stays light until after nine.  About an hour before sunset, swallows swarm overhead, crying continuously.  The light fades, their high circles swoop lower, and their loud screes become faint squeaks.  Imperceptibly, they’ve morphed into bats.

At the sun sets, we go to close the shutters, and I always look to the west to see a huge planet, almost certainly Venus.  Yesterday, as I closed the shutters, I heard the voice of Salman Khan, explaining how you can calculate the distance of a star by noting the angle overhead as the sun rises or sets, at opposite times of year.  So I looked straight up.  Because here, I can.

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6 thoughts on “Warm-weather routine

  1. Laura, what a beautiful post. Your “typical” daily routine sounds peaceful, productive, and nurturing. You’ve done a beautiful job of incorporating the life of your charming Torino neighborhood into the culture of your home. The picture of the barba di frate made me curious. I had never seen it before, though at first glance they reminded me of scapes. So it was off to the internet to read about it. I liked the idea that, to at least one contributor, they have the taste of the sea.

    1. Truthfully, this post is mostly referring to this week. Last week (with the exam) and to a lesser degree the few preceding ones, were a different story, and perhaps that’s one reason I’m appreciating the return to “normalcy” all the more!

  2. Sounds idyllic. I do wonder how you get clothes and yourselves clean if you work long hours and have a large family.

    1. In my limited experience, Italians no longer have large families. In fact, they are more likely to have one child than Americans are.

      The women do often work, but the ones who work in my building seem to have housekeepers. Also, they are more likely to live near relatives who help out (like the little girl who stays with her grandmother).

      Not sure how all this works in the nitty gritty, or will work beyond this generation, but that’s some of what I’ve seen so far.

      I’m not saying everyone does the same routine I do, but in general, people do seem to be energy conscious. They pay more for energy, for one thing. Also, they are traditionally big on airing things out, not just wet clothes, but dry-cleanables and rugs. I gather they believe in the health properties of the sun.

      So, does that help?

  3. It really does sound lovely. I imagine the sounds that you hear and how their growing familiarity must be something of a comfort…like when I hear the barred owls in the woods across the road. That says “home.”

    1. Hi Beth! I love listening to the owls and Whipporwills when I’m in Georgia during the summer, so I know what you mean.

      In the past week, it has started getting light so early that I now sleep through the birds. (Thank goodness, as it must be 4:30 a.m.!) But the ever-changing parade of church bell tunes is also quite comforting.

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