May 16, 2010

Arrival in Tuscany

After the long flight  (longer because of flying way north to avoid the volcanic ash) the shock of deeply verdant hills flashing by the car window opens wide my sleepy eyes.  The splendid greens of May, intensified by constant rain, glow with a florescent brightness.  Towers!  Poppies!  Sheep! We’re back.  Always, it’s a miracle.  Oh, no, Mirko is driving 110 miles an hour.  I’ll have to get used to that.  Bramasole looks beautiful in the rain as we struggle up the driveway with our luggage.  I broke the family carry-on only rule and Ed has the pleasure of pulling fifty pounds uphill under a cloud burst. Gilda has left soup, a dish of chicken and artichokes and several salume and cheeses, which we attack immediately.  The house has been closed all winter and a faint mustiness is slowly giving way to the flowers Gilda has left in every room.  I’m in time this year for my lilacs and peonies.  The two mystery roses—twins—that survived thirty years when the house was abandoned, and now twenty more of our years here, are laden with buds about to break open. No one ever has identified this rose, which has an essential-rose fragrance, a tight round bud and a glorious many-petaled form.  I call it the Bramasole Rose.

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Home!  We simply pick up where we dropped off last fall.  Ed goes out to get his hair cut.  He’s been waiting for Francesco’s special touch with his spiky hair.  I pick up the book I didn’t finish last October and fall to bed for a three hour sleep.  Lovely that the days are long now.  We walk around the land and see that our fava beans are coming along, and the artichokes will be ready soon.  Half of one plum tree looks dead.  Ed builds a fire and we have dinner pulled up close to the heat.  This stone house hasn’t given up winter yet.

We talk about how the summer looks and how busy we’ll be with the 20th Anniversary party, loads of guests, a wedding in Friuli, a cruise where I’m to be the guest speaker, The Tuscan Sun Festival (Sting is coming!) and on and on.  This summer, I’ll probably spend most of my time in the kitchen because we’ve decided to gather all our favorite recipes into The Tuscan Sun Cookbook.  Ed is delighted because when it’s published, we won’t have to search through my books, our folders, and in odd drawers for scraps of paper where I’ve scrawled the ingredients for something we’ve eaten somewhere.  Steven Rothfeld will photograph as we go. www.stevenrothfeld.com We work together every year on an agenda with photographs (Frances Mayes Under the Tuscan Sun Agenda from Chronicle Books) and he did the good work in Bringing Tuscany Home. We’re excited about creating a book together and look forward to the inspiring fun of being with Steven.

We’ll start with spring’s bounty: peas, asparagus, fave, artichokes, green almonds, green garlic—green, green green.  We’re seeing green and will be tasting green for weeks.  First dish: risotto primavera.  Tomorrow, we’ll go to the market.