‘Home Alone’ in Passopomo ! – by Frank

Rosi, who runs the riding school, lent me her car to drive Ruth to the airport in Catania, for her week-long trip to Berlin. It was odd driving back to Passopomo without her but I began to make a mental list of all the things I wanted to do while she was away – help Rosi out with the horses, make more marmalade (I’d been told that the root stock onto which they graft Mandarins, was the bitter Seville orange and that there were many trees on the abandoned farmland around the Maneggio which had fruit on their lower branches perfect for Marmalade making), fix the driver’s- side step, which had been damaged at the Hot Springs weeks back in Saturnia, fill the wood-store – there being plenty of fallen/dead trees on the uncared-for estate and of course continue the clear-up of the river-bed, prior to the visit of the team from the Town Hall. Sadly, I got back from the airport to be told that the council had been and gone with a small pick-up truck – I had the key to the neighbour’s property which they needed, to access the pile of rubbish we’d already gathered from our clean-up sessions… A week later they made another appointment for a site-visit, this time it was called off because it was raining ! Christ, if they did that in Wales, they’d only work half the year! Two days later the neighbour texted me to say they’d been to clear the rubbish – I was confused. I ‘wrote’ back to tell him how delighted I was but what a shame I hadn’t been there to take photographs for our documentation of the ‘project’. Meanwhile, Gianni, who had already taken Ruth and I on an amazing walk below Etna, had invited me on another one, sensing that I was already missing Ruth and heading out at 7 am the next day, in time to catch the extraordinary rose glow that sunrise gives to the snow-capped volcano and surrounding area. It was truly unforgettable visually but also rich in shared conversations about language, nature and Sicilian culture.

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On our return, I couldn’t wait to see how much they’d done at the ravine and was disappointed to find the pile below Giacomo’s property hadn’t moved. So, I set off up the river-bed towards the bridge, where the worst of the ‘dumping’ can be seen, only to find no change there either! I took out my frustration on a few more hours of clearing and on my way back to Emma, gathering a barrow-full of wood for Emma’s stove and the fire-place in the communal room at Passopomo. It was only the following day, when I’d had no reply from Giacomo, that I realized that his initial message lacked a question mark.

The next day Gianni drove me to the local hardware store, Emma’s step tucked under my arm, to buy the correct bolts for the job (there was no way of taking a measurement, as the bolt holes disappeared into the step casing, with no way of knowing how deep they went). After a few attempts by the friendly man behind the counter we plumped for a set, complete with assorted washers. Since that day it’s rained on and off and Emma is stood in a muddy part of a field, so sliding under the cab hasn’t really appealed to me, so it’s been added to the ‘to-do’ list.

Given the turn in the weather, I set about another Marmalade-making session, this time filling an assorted selection of saved jars: I’m up to about 30 now but it seems as fast as I make them the sooner they leave us in the form of presents. It’s so nice to be able to give something home-made and it often takes people by surprise that it’s come out of our camper-van home.

Saturday comes around quicker than I’d hoped and it’s time to pick Ruth up from Catania airport – not a day too soon, as I miss her terribly and can’t wait to hear how she got on with Yoli in Berlin.

More photos of my walk with Gianni are on our flikr album


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