If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

17 December 2006


A voice carries a looooooong way on clear day in open land in the quiet countryside.

This afternoon, a beautiful clear sunny one ... too warm to really be early winter ... I set off to follow what was a loud grouping of voices, clearly on my land. They were neither moving nor hunting, just ... carrying on.

And so, in need of a hike anyway, I headed down the drive... through the field... and onto the large path heading down into the forest. An old Roman road, this is the secluded local footpath that knowledgeable hikers and hunters (animal and mushroom alike) take down the 'mountain,' and while it is technically on my land it is 'public domain' for purposeful access.

Halfway down the drive, Sisi (short for Cecelia, pronounced see-see), the darling little sister of sweet Max the cat, was following along. I stopped to greet her, and she jumped from the ground up into my arms and nuzzled into my shoulder, her clingy sign that she wanted affection. And so we walked, Sisi and I ... across the field, into the forest.

(You've never seen a cat spend an hour hiking on a person's shoulder, have you? Then you haven't met Sisi. She was obviously a pirate's parrot in a former life. Which makes me either the pirate or his wench, I guess. But she loves me, nonetheless.)

As we followed down the winding, rocky, picturesque path (really, I must go and snap a few images so you can see what I mean)... we grew closer to those loud carrying voices. I guessed them to be a crew of very young hunters on a break, judging from their dress. I found it refreshing that they weren't playing video games somewhere, as unnerved as I was by the size *(5) and presence of their group on my land. I had no argument with them, just a woman out for a walk on my land. As Sisi and I strolled past, like any human on a secluded wooded path would, we ... drew attention.

Smiles and polite 'buongiorno's were exchanged.

Sisi and I went on our way.

When we doubled back, 20 minutes later or so ... knowing we would pass the same group, I reflected on the strangeness of it all. Perhaps they knew who I was, and perhaps not ... it's a small town, but the young people are not as connected. Perhaps they could tell I was not Italian. Either way, I knew that the oddity of a single woman in a long black coat and leather work gloves strolling through their patch of forest with a black cat on her shoulder was certainly comment-worthy.

As we headed back to the voices, with only the slightest bit of trepidation, I knew it was my situation to manage, as the 'elder' in the group.

I smiled coyly; distractedly as we approached the area, my right hand petting Sisi, perched on my left shoulder.

I never broke my stride as I passed... not wanting to encourage interaction, and yet ... knowing I could not ignore them; these others on my secluded forest path.

"Siamo tornati" (We've returned...) I said, when one met my eyes.
Ben tornata... (welcome back), one of the more outspoken ones said.
"Grazie."... (Thanks.)

and then, one of them had the courage to break ranks...

"Ma, chi sei? Una vicina?" (Who are you? Do you live nearby?)

I had my answer already planned, knowing their curiosity would have gotten to them, and knowing it was my one opportunity to disarm any potential for mischief:

"aaaah, Chi lo sa? Forse solo una strega ... ma speriamo che avete una buona caccia"

("Aaaah, who knows? Maybe I'm only a witch .... but we hope you have a good hunt")

And we walked on, Sisi and I, first to stunned silence.

Finally ... "Grazie! Buona serata!!" (thanks, have a good afternoon!) called after me.

Italians are pretty superstitious. Whether they had a good hunt, or a bad hunt, I'm sure they think I was responsible. I'm happy either way, and I'm DEFINITELY not getting messed with.

Aaaaah, it's nice to be mysterious. In any language.


Anonymous Ublend said...

Yes. I know the path well, though I did not have the pleasure to meet a "witch" on my journey. If I had, I would have likely see Glenda the good witch (pure Blond) wearing Prada and sipping a Martini with blue cheese stuffed olives.

Glad you are really enjoying the end of the chapter of your live and taking the time to refresh before starting your next!

3:05 PM  
Blogger I'm Just a Girl said...

That's something straight out of a movie. I can imagine the hunters' perplexed expressions and exchanged glances to one another, like "is she serious?" I think the cat definitely helped pull off the ensemble. Now if you had been sweeping and happened to have a broom with you...

3:52 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

Isn't it nice to be known as the witch in the woods?

4:14 PM  

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