Montone

  Morning fills the house

Morning fills the house

August 23, 2017 - The first thing you do when you wake is welcome the light. You open one window at a time: the square one by the loft bed we share; the small one above the sink in the bathroom; the two in the kitchen downstairs. Finally, you unlock the front door and fling it open, inviting in critters and crisp air. Morning fills the house.

You make coffee. I know you’ll have it black.

  I cut up plump green figs and sweet plums from the garden

I cut up plump green figs and sweet plums from the garden

I step outside and roll out my yoga matt on the concrete terrace facing Montone. I settle into a child’s pose and empty my lungs with a loud, exhaustive sigh. I flow for what feels like forever, until scalding heat descends and distant church bells signal the start of a new hour. Drops of sweat tickle my armpits as I lie in savasana, listening to my heart pound. My breath steadily quiets.

We make breakfast inside. I cut up plump green figs and sweet plums from the garden, sprinkle granola over yogurt, and swirl the colorful mix with a spoon. You toast multigrain bread and dress it with orange jam your friend made, or olive oil from the villa. We sit outside and eat. Maybe we have something to say, but mostly we are silent, satisfied by the beauty around us. By the time we are done, the sun has scared away the last of dawn’s clouds

  You claim lounge chairs by the pool before anyone else arrives

You claim lounge chairs by the pool before anyone else arrives

You claim lounge chairs by the pool before anyone else arrives, laying out suntan lotion and bug spray on one chair, books and towels on the other. I free my hair from a tight, sweaty ponytail and crash into the cold pool water. Like a smooth rock, my body sinks to the bottom, bubbles rise excitedly around me. I paddle to the ledge and climb out, eager to lie down and let the sun dry my wet, distended body. For hours, we will get lost in our books, swoosh flies, and fall in and out of sleep. In the afternoon, we will take a quick drive to a neighboring town – Città di Castello or Gubbio – for an espresso, maybe an unexpected souvenir.

  For hours, we will get lost in our books, swoosh flies, and fall in and out of sleep.

For hours, we will get lost in our books, swoosh flies, and fall in and out of sleep.

Returning to Cardaneto in the early evening, we shower and start dinner. Carrots, ripe tomatoes, lemon-dressed tuna steaks, tender avocados. I chop and slice, you sauté and grill. We dance around our small, rustic kitchen like notes on a music sheet. At the dinner table, I share a quote from my book, you share a project idea you had earlier that afternoon. We talk about Dad, we talk about Grandma. We laugh, trade feelings, finish each other’s sentences, and relish the final flavor of our dinner. Sometime between the first and last bite of food, the heat breaks and daylight softens. 

  Sometime between the first and last bite of food, the heat breaks and daylight softens

Sometime between the first and last bite of food, the heat breaks and daylight softens

You’re tired, but I insist we chase the sunset.  We walk up and down the winding gravel road into town, stopping to take photos of the fiery orange streaks in the sky that stroke the tips of voluptuous hills as they fade behind thick, pink haze. We pass an open field of thirsty sunflowers, their heads bowed to the soil. We discover a rickety tree house nestled in an olive tree. I say something about how this place never ceases to amaze me. You fantasize about owning a small house in Umbria one day. I try not to count the days because time here is gracious, limitless. 

  We discover a rickety tree house nestled in an olive tree

We discover a rickety tree house nestled in an olive tree

It’s dark now.

The first thing you do when we return is close the windows. If only we had screens, you’ll complain, we could sleep with the windows open! I shower again - this time to rinse off the dust - then lather my stiff skin with lotion.  In bed, we might start a movie, or read a few more pages of our books, before it’s lights out. I love you, darkness whispers.  I love you too. And we’ll sink into sleep, surrender to the night. I won’t have any dreams, because my mind is free and calm.