Tuesday, September 2, 2014


(I've been writing about a different kind of shots in the context of J's medical situation, but when I heard two loud bangs this morning, this next post is what came out.)

Yesterday our Italian valley was totally tranquil. Today's gunshots tell a different story:it's the first day the hunters have license to shoot birds. That means it's no day for a walk in the woods.

My slender brother, Leigh, who last September at 63 died suddenly of a heart attack, loved birds. As kids, we used to watch excitedly what appeared to be the same sparrow family nesting atop a pillar on our front porch.

Leigh never outgrew that  passion, continuing to feed birds from wherever he lived. Now he lives in the Sons of Jacob Cemetery in Minnesota. I still love birds, but less loyally than he.

On the other hand, at our 44th anniversary lunch which coincided with the ceremony for the unveiling of Leigh's headstone, something made me decline the offer of the guinea fowl.

My father, who like his own father, died at 63 from a troubled heart, used to love to quote my toddler son's exclamation, "the birdies--they flied 'avay'!"

I am hoping that these vulnerable Italian birds will do the same.

By another odd confluence of events, I have finally arrived at the end of my journey with Tim Parks' book, "ITALIAN WAYS: On and off the rails from Milan to Palermo." The last chapter is titled "EPILOGUE." 

This wise book offers a fantastic lens through which to view Italian culture.

Coincidentally Epilogue is the title of my high school yearbook of which I was the editor 50 years ago, and for which I've been asked to write a little personal blurb as part of our 50th Class Reunion.

It was atypical that we Middletown High Schoolers chose a theme for that yearbook--Time. The cover featured a dangling pocket watch, and we arranged the class photos in a circle that looked like a clock. Even in 1964, some of us were thinking ahead to how that might play out over the years.

Now as a 67.5-year-old "child/studentessa" in Italy to whom everything is news, I'm grateful for many things. I especially like the words Tim Parks quotes from the meditation worship for which he arrived late, because he lost track of time.

On the last day of that workshop,  Edoardo Parisi (is France following me everywhere?) led the meditation of the metta bhavana:

"Let your mind go out to all those who are close to you and wish them well… Then to all those you are acquainted with. Finally, to all people and creatures everywhere. If you have offended anyone, perhaps, in your thoughts, you could seek pardon from them, and if anyone has offended you, you could try to grant them your sincere pardon."

Now that is a worthy Epilogue.

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