La Dolce far Niente

Villa IMG_7754

The sweetness of doing nothing. This one has lots of photos of sweet nothingness.

This turns out to be more of a practice than a lack of doing. So does that mean I am doing something when I am trying to do nothing?

Today Karin and I have decided to stay at the villa. It is a free day and our friends are headed out to the beach or a hike and a few industrious folks awoke before 5 to catch the train to Rome to roam for the day. We have two weeks in this glorious country after the retreat so down time sounds delicious right now.

Neither one of us is much of a TV person. In all our travels I think we turned a TV on once in Inida when it was raining and cold. We had our choices of Bollywood films or politicians pontificating. Or maybe they were holy men. We opted for Bollywood. For about 15 minutes. This morning we awoke to FOX News in English. This is a little slice of home we could do without. But it is not for us so we use our amazing powers of yoga and become okay with what is as is. And go outside where we can’t hear it.

Bill is a news guy and this is his vacation too. While he waits for the others to finish their massages before taking them to the beach, he takes in the news. I know, this whole retreat just sounds like torture!

Once we have the place to ourselves, we move in. We bring our jouraling supplies to the kitchen: colored markers, brochures of where we have been, phones stuffed with photos to jog specific moments, water colors and of course the little books we trust with our thoughts and memories.

But first a thorough cleaning and clearing is in order. Karin goes to work on scrubbing the kitchen. I straighten the living room and start the laundry, including all the cloth dish towels we’ve been using. I love that paper towels are rarely used. Here, they wash the dishes, then rinse the dish cloth and other dish towels then hang them out to dry to use later. I want to do this when I go home. I wonder if I will.

Villa IMG_8777We open the doors to the glorious back patio with the ridiculous view and light some incense.

Once our chores are complete we sit down to recount what we’ve done so far and the meanings we’ve derived from them. We note in particular the strenuous times and discuss how these moments were our teachers and what we learned about ourselves by our reaction. Journaling with a friend is better than counseling any day.

We have a light lunch of eggs and veggies with cheese of course. We don’t reach for the wine bottle quite yet, but it’s definitely on deck for later.

Karin does the dishes and I iron the dish towels and runners. Yes, iron. It’s meditative and feels like good service.

Back to journaling. A break to cut some flowers from around the property to brighten up the space. The property is absolutely beautiful. This villa is perched high on a hill with not too much hill left above it. We are situated in the middle of active olive groves, trees strung with nets to catch olives that may fall before they’re plucked. From the back patio we can see the pool below us, our pool. Beneath that the valleys of small towns with red clay roofs and beyond that the shimmering sliver of the Mediterranean Sea. Whenever I can I stop and slowly pan 360 degrees to appreciate where I actually am.

Later in the day when we are contemplating dinner, Peter, the owner of the villas, walks up the hill from the direction of the pool with his two helpmates in tow. Frieda and Lila are mother and daughter poodles that go everywhere with their humans. They might be the most awesome dogs ever. (In Italy of course, I do have my own super awesome fur babies stateside.) He’s just come to see what we’re up to. We invite him to share a glass of wine with us, which we opened at precisely 5 pm. We sit around the outside table and talk about what we’ve been doing, ask him about the property, the villas, and then he invites us to see his garden and take what we want for our dinner.

Yes, please.

We fairly skip down the hill behind him. Along with us, the dogs and now a new cat, Luna. She thinks she’s a dog too.

We fill a box with lettuces, chard, onions, and whatever else was ripe and ready. On our way back up to the house Peter jumped a fence to snatch a few cherries from one of his trees. He could literally live off this land without ever having to buy another food item. But of course, it’s Italy and all this amazing vegetation just isn’t complete without cheese and bread and wine.

Dinner is sublime, fresh and organic. Just after dark some of the others are beginning to return home. We’re invited to the other villa for a glass of wine. Karin opts out, choosing to remain coccooned in her dolce far niente bubble. I go, because deep down inside I am still that little kid who doesn’t want to go to bed if others are still up becasue I might miss something. Like a good story.

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