Villa Isabella, L’Aquila, Italia, December 10, 2008
Never buy a house sight unseen, especially if the price is too good to be true.
Our L’Aquila house is on a hill. It has a flat roof, stucco walls, and a terrace. Many of our shrubs and trees here look remarkably like those at home. Or rather at your house. I phrased that awkwardly, didn’t I? But you, my dear Sugar, know what I mean to say. You always have.
Close your eyes and hold my hand as we climb up this hill. How many times have you and I walked together like this? There is snow on this path that leads us through the woods to the house. Let’s stop and catch our breath for just a moment. If truth be told, I’m the one who needs to catch my breath, not you. You are the better hiker and kayaker. You‘re the sailor and the swimmer, the skier, the runner. And we both know that, at least in the beginning of this whole business with Mallory, it seemed that you, not I, would be the one to overcome your fear of flying and live here. How bizarre life is. In all that has happened, at least we have told each other the truth. I hope it does count for something. I also know that you and I will continue to love one another, even though you told me otherwise.
But back to our walk. I know you adore surprises, so open your eyes now as we have arrived at a hot house. Yes, it was a big selling point for me. You have to duck to step through the door, but once inside, you can stand upright. In the spring, I may plant some herbs and spices here, as well as in a garden on the south side of our house. I want to grow as much as I can of what I use in the recipes I’m creating for my new my cookbook. Right now, I’m thinking of eggplant, zucchini, fennel, green beans, bell peppers, rosemary, basil, and thyme. I’ll plant some asparagus, although I understand it grows wild somewhere in this region. Garlic and onions, definitely, and other herbs local cooks use. I have much to learn. For example, saffron is used in many dishes here, and I’ve been told that it grows well not far from here. But presently, my hot house is home only to flowers and ferns.
Let’s walk on. Careful there; don’t trip over the garden hose. You will see an abundance of anthurium nestled into a variety of ferns. The orchids take my breath away, and the fragrance of the lilies makes me so giddy that I have to hold your hand tighter. The little blue flower I’ve enclosed with my letter grows on this small bush right here. Further along, there are deep purple flowers, which I don’t know from home. There, I said it again. Although we are apart, you are always home to me.
There is no snow on the path that leads to the house. The rust-colored rocks under our feet are quite ancient looking. Well, here we are, you and I, still on a narrow rocky road. Walk on with me. Take two steps up; we have arrived. We can see the house now. How can a hard rock façade make a house appear so inviting? It’s warm out here in the sun and so very still. The fragrance of the pines will make you feel at home. But our olive tree along the entrance will remind you of how far away you are. It’s an old thing, crooked and bent. Yet, I prefer to believe it kindly arcs itself across the walkway to provide us with shade during hot days. Now I hear a rustling in the brush, a splash of water, but no birdsong at this hour.
I think in Abruzzo even birds take naps in the afternoons. And now it’s time for mine.
Author's Note: This is the first letter from my epistolary short story Dear Sugar, a work in my collection The Angel of Death, stories of love, death, redemption and hope, published on Amazon Kindle. The entire short story is free, today only (4/15/13) for download.
Causes Irma Fritz Supports
Music of Remembrance, Seattle, WA; Compass Center, Seattle, WA; Seattle Opera, Seattle, WA; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; KCTS 9, Seattle, WA (PBS)