Elliott took these photos from our balcony. Oh Sicily. Doesn’t this view just give your soul peace?
The houses in the valley right below ours are sometimes pretty to look at — that is, they contribute to that feeling of peace — and sometimes their dogs just bark too much and we would rather live anywhere else. Or the wood chopper hammers away right below us and we wish we’d known about these things before we moved in.
But most of the time we draw a deep breath and thank God for a view like this. What kind of view will we be looking at next winter? We have no idea. I do hope there’s snow in it, though!
A couple of Sunday afternoons ago, we took a family hike down into the valley below our house. We followed the stream (or sewer drainage, for either term would be correct) through the lowest part of the valley until we reached a farmer’s orange groves.
That little yellow house on the very far right corner of the cliff is our house! It looks so tiny and unimportant from down in the valley. But think of all the memories we’ve made in it! Christmases, birthdays, holidays, visitors, bringing Gil home from the hospital, bringing Siena home to live with us, fights and time-outs and tears and kisses. I love that little yellow house.
And I love this beautiful baby. There’s just nothing so cute to me as his beautiful blond curls, which grow thicker and longer and crazier by the day! Even when I tuck them under a hat to keep his ears warm, a few curls escape, and he looks more cherubic than ever.
The sun was setting behind the ridge, silhouetting a few of the apartment buildings in our town.
We made it to the orange grove! I am pretty strict about us not picking oranges from the trees because that seems like blatant stealing… even though I know the farmer would probably pick us a basketful for free if he saw us there. (Such is the generosity of every farmer we’ve ever met here!) As we’ve never met this farmer, we find fallen oranges in the lush green grass under the trees and then eat and eat and eat until we’ve had our fill.
Before I moved to Sicily, I could take or leave oranges. They were great, but not my fave. Now, though, because of the memories laced with the sweetness, fresh oranges are one of my most favorite things in the world.
On the way home, a group of horsemen rode down the hills, across the ridge, and right past us. We watched them, mesmerized. Elliott and I have both ridden a lot in our lives — Elliott mostly when he worked on a ranch in California, me mostly in India and Pakistan as a teenager — and we were gripped with the memories: the tug of leather reins in our hands, the rock of our hips in the saddle, the communicative touch of our heels into our horse’s side, even the automatic shift in our center of gravity to respond to excited rearing. I felt it all again in a moment, in a heady rush that left me breathless.
I was struck by another more sobering emotion, too. Now a horse’s back looks far more dangerous than it ever did before. Now — when I look at the little faces of my children looking up at me — my head feels so much more fragile, the saddle so much farther from the ground. I realized with a touch of sadness that I’ll never ride again like I used to, with the joyful abandon of a girl madly in love with horses, heedless of her own safety. In high school my instructor would say, “Do you want to jump?” and I’d say, “How high?”
But today, well… at least for today, I am content to keep two feet on the ground and two arms around the ones I love. Maybe later Elliott and I will teach Lena and Gil how to ride, or we’ll have a pony of our own*, or we’ll watch Lena jump the jumps that I once jumped.
But that Sunday afternoon, I was content. Content to watch. Content to eat a fallen orange. Content to walk home to our little yellow house on the cliff, tuck my babies into bed, kiss the one I love. So very thankful and so very content.
*And I’ve already chosen a name: Mary Poppins!
Are there things you once did that you’ll never do again?