Thursday, October 21, 2010

Indian Summer Calabria

So many Indian Summer memories--Riding horseback into the Colorado backcountry during hunting season, driving hundreds of miles through forests in Eastern Oregon checking camps and people during hunting season, planting garlic, canning tomatoes, and harvesting pumpkins at Rainshadow Farm.  Now we are making new memories but many of the fall tasks remain the same.

Pumpkin Harvest--Rainshadow 2002
No one is sure what Indian Summer exactly is or where the term originated--but it's an evocative enough couple of words that it drove out St. Martin's summer in the UK as the phrase to use to describe those last perfect days.  Some say a frost must precede it--but here we had lots of rain followed by the sunny clear days we are now enjoying.  It feels like Indian Summer. Indian Summer is bittersweet because we know winter is licking our heels.  We're not harvesting or riding horses this year, but we still need to gather firewood and get flu shots--a form of gathering before winter overtakes us.

Wood is abundant in the American west in the National Forests where we both worked.  Gathering firewood was a necessary, but fun thing to do. Here in Calabria we heat with gas in the main house and have a brand new airtight fireplace in the guesthouse. I have a little legna (firewood) left in the basement, but after watching my neighbor bring home wood last weekend, I caught the firewood bug again and had to get more--I just don’t own a chainsaw anymore.

The Neighbor's wood before they hauled it inside their storage room
I ordered €50 worth of oak wood from the same fellow and he brought it Monday. He hauls it from the family woodlot in the back of a Fiat sedan! We dropped it over the edge of the piazza and reduced the distance to our house by 12 steps. Hence, I only had to haul the wood down 50 steps instead of 65. I estimate the wood we bought amounts to about 1/5 of an American cord (4x4x8ft), so this little pile comes to about $300 per cord. Spendy compared to Oregon, but remember Italy doesn’t have the expansive forests. Another difference is that the Calabrians cut live, green trees for firewood usually. There is not an abundance of dead and dying timber here. This of course means that the wood I bought is too wet and green to burn this year by my standards. The Italians put it into open fireplaces where most of the heat goes up the chimney and not into the kitchen. Even if my Italian were better, I don’t think some of the old timers would want to hear about change.

Vince likes to help--Di not so much
I’m buying 3 loads of non-oak wood from another local man who delivers €15 worth of wood right to your doorstep with his mule. We’ll be sure to get a picture of this for the blog!

Although not a nice outdoorsy thing to talk about, something you hear on the media in the fall in the US is news about the latest flu vaccines. We started getting flu shots about 5 years ago after we both had a bad flu encounter. So, I went to our local farmacia and asked where I could get a shot. The dotoressa said I could get two shots right there in the evening when she opened after siesta. Yep, I returned at 6:00, paid €18 for two flu shots, and she handed them to me. That’s right, it seems most people are expected to give themselves shots.

Well, we “discussed this” at home, and it was decided that we didn’t want to teach ourselves to give injections at home. I went back to the pharmacy and the young chemist offered to do it for us at no charge. BTW, this woman is one of three people in town who speak a little English, so it’s always fun to try Italian with her and she gets to practice English. All of our American prescription drugs so far are just given to us here with no further need to visit a physician.

Hey, enjoy your fall wherever you are. Guido.


  1. I'm with Di, hauling wood down stairs is not a good thing. Nor is self-innoculation for that matter.

    wow You don't look any older from the pumpkin shot to now.

  2. Thanks, Sue. I can tell you that Guido is very happy to hear your compliment on his photos, but does not want to appear vain.
    He said, "yeah, I looked old and decrepit back then too".



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