September 21, 2011

Colors of Summer

In Cortona, half way into September, summer still reigns. The lack of rain has turned the fields the color of lion’s fur but the geraniums love the intense sun and are blooming their hearts out.  Looking through my notes and photos from the greener part of summer, I wanted to get out my watercolors and dash off some of my awful interpretations of color and collision of shapes.  (Those I always will spare you!)  Better  to share some notes and photos instead. What you can’t see well in this photo taken at Bramasole is all the butterflies in the lavender–they set the scene in motion, while the old mother cypress loomed over all.

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Corn (for pigs), sunflowers, Cortona. Our house is on the slope to the right, from the top of the hill. Someone, not I, could paint this but even the photo is pretty nice. I like the clouds and the shadows of clouds and the gentle profile of our ancient little city along the hill.

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Our garden is still rife with peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and tender little lettuces. I wonder if Georgia O’Keeffe ever painted a zucchini flower.

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OR ever ate them fried! I could eat these colors:

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Sunflowers are gone now, except for a few stragglers in the fields. We plant a long upper terrace of them every summer, just to see their smiling faces nodding down at us every day, or to gather an armful for the table. In the shot below, those are Vietri plates, flatware, and glasses. The owners of Vietri–headquarters is located in Hillsborough NC–gave us several sets to use for photographs for The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, coming out in March, 2012. The colorful bowls on the plate rack came from a local antique store–they were about two dollars each and have a spontaneous and rustic charm.  The table is from my At Home in Tuscany collection with Drexel Heritage and the chairs we had made in Citta di Castello. One of the joys of Italy–you can draw a design, take it to an artisan, and he will look at it and say, “Twelve chairs like this? Would two weeks be okay?” The candles are in terracotta flowerpot saucers, and are surrounded by herbs–simple!

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Ah, here, in this shot taken at Fonte delle Foglie, our mountain house,  you can see the butterflies! Not the bumble bees, who mine the lavender all day. We brush past them but they are not the least interested in us. The lavender took over the path, happily so.

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Summer now is an illusion. Days are shortening, nights are cool, and yesterday we had one of those storms that, around here, they claim “breaks the back” of summer–Zeus flinging bolts around the skies, drenching rain, wind strewing a covering of pine needles over the grass. Time to pull the duffles from under the bed and find some sweaters.