24 May 2005

The Rhythm of Spring

Man with cigar
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Today I awoke to the sights and sounds of spring. The valley below was dappled with early morning sunlight. An adjacent hillside was being mown for hay. The neighbor’s cattle are once again standing atop a nearby hill. They must also like the view because the hilltop is barren, with only grass on the lower slopes for grazing. Each morning when I awake I can hear the clanging of the bell wrapped around one of their necks, and track their progress up the hill by its sound. It’s quite an intricate footpath they follow with many switchbacks to reach their perch overlooking the valley. Each night they retrace their steps as they are herded back to the valley floor.

The groundskeeper, Tuddi, is cutting the long grass on the slope just below my room. He pauses for a moment when I return from breakfast. He wants to know if I slept well. Si, bene. He tells me the cacti below my walkway will bear fruit in September. In November, the olive groves will be harvested and pressed for oil. He has been working on the estate virtually his entire life, since 1947.

After breakfast, Marcella comes by to show me how the key to my room works again. She pops it right out of the lock and I feel foolish. I didn’t want to admit that I had had to leave it in the door all night long because I couldn’t figure it out!
She asks about my family names, and I share my pedigree charts. She calls Tuddi over to share this information since his family has lived in the Villarosa area for over 50 years. He has never heard of Seminatores, although he knows a lot of Seminaras. He has heard of Alimentatos, and a few Zitos still live in town. He will ask around and see what he finds out.

Another neighbor’s goats are being shorn today. Just yesterday I was thinking how miserable they must be with their thick, scraggy coats. Marcella wants me to meet their owner. I ask if I may take a few photos, and the owner gives his consent. Two men are busy with electric clippers, quickly sluicing off the long coats to reveal the soft, buttery hair beneath. One man works with the stub of a cigar in his mouth, while the owner looks on proudly. We part after a few moments with the promise to send copies of the photographs I took.

I decide to try and conquer the maze of streets that comprise the city of Enna. It is a foreign concept to me to pick the highest mountaintop and build a city on it. I suppose if my country had been invaded and occupied as many times over the centuries as Sicily has, the logic would make sense.

I find parking near the Castello di Lombardia, and decide to eat my picnic lunch on a bench under a nearby tree. I watch the fellow who is doing a fair amount of trade at the public toilets near the castle by handing out toilet paper and setting out a basket for donations. He has even made a neatly penned sign with arrows to indicate which side is for men and which is for women. I sit and watch and plan my afternoon.

My primary objective is to locate the Archivio di Stato di Enna. So I set out, knowing that it will be a tedious task since so few of the streets are clearly marked. I had mapped out the address online before I arrived in Sicily, and these directions proved to be invaluable as I never would have found it otherwise. Two hours later…success! I will return tomorrow when they are open to see if they have any records they will allow me to search.

I stop in Villarosa on my way to San Giovannello for the night. I want to see if I can locate two addresses: one on Corso Garibaldi, and the other on Via Berengario. I find Salvatore Seminatore’s photography shop, but no luck with the other street. I will have to return another day.

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