With the second half of our B&B season in full tilt, it’s amazing how many people have come up our driveway in the last thirty-four days alone. We’ve had only one night in that time with no guests; other than that, it’s been a plethora of baking bread, washing sheets, and dusting behind the pictures and on top of the mirrors. The weather has gone from scathing heat to cool dampness; morning mist has replaced relentless sun. The entire atmosphere of where we live changes once again. Gone are the sticky flower surfaces and sap-coated country streets. Here are the the drying rose hips and heavy vines. Tractors, loaded to the gills with grappoli so beautiful that they make you want to weep, putter slowly to the cantine where they unload into the monstrous presses that release the first juice to make the mosto.
Italy is at her most beautiful this time of year. And I am at my most retrospective.
I feel the changes consciously and palpably this year, as emails fly back and forth between my editors, graphic designer and myself as to how the final cover of my upcoming novel will look. I google “indie bookstores”, trying to assemble a list of just the right shops to visit on my trip to the states to read and sign my book. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington. Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Pasadena. Maybe San Francisco? I hold my breath as I read through the final copy, praying that every error has been discovered and corrected.
Oh, the cover of True Vines is going to be beautiful. So beautiful. I can’t wait to show it to you. Somehow, it incorporates everything that’s important to me. I don’t know how that happened exactly, but it has.
All this as the bread dough rises every morning and I turn pan after pan of sautéed fruits with peperoncino and rosemary onto plates with goat cheese and pick the last of the heirloom yellow tomatoes to sprinkle with salt and Umbrian olive oil. I try to keep perspective and to live in the moment. All this as I collect sheets from the line and prepare everything and await, with a smile, the new guests driving up my hill. I’m starting to feel the tiredness in my bones.
In between I’m waking in the night. I fret about italics and where to use them in foreign language quotes. I wonder if people will read the book. I remember that my work is to put the book out there, and let go wherever it is it is meant to go. And that my real work right now is to make the beds. Wash the towels. Explain where the pretty places are. I appeal to Spirit to calm my nerves and help me drift off again so that morning won’t come quite so quickly and no one will see the circles under my eyes.
This novel. It’s come to mean more to me than I ever thought it could. What started out as a story that thrust itself out of my gut is now walking its own path, and I want it to fly high and far. I think that it’s because with it, I’m striving, as a storyteller, to reach people who have chosen change and are coping with its aftermath, and others for whom change has been trust upon them.
True Vines speaks to both. To moving on. To the fragility of our existence and to grasping, with everything we are made of, each and every moment. To squandering none of them – not a precious, single one.
I write what I know, and I try to live what I write.
But right now it feels like there are so many balls in the air and my arms are very short. I can’t catch them all.
There is honor in fragility and tiredness. There is real meaning in reaching and stretching and sometimes falling short out of exhaustion. Depletion, when it arrives at our doorstep, deserves to be recognized. It’s here for a reason. That reason is to protect us.
My life is filled with beautiful things. A bed and breakfast in the wine country in the fall. A novel in its final stages of editing. Pots in different stages of completion, waiting glazing or firing. A coaching business and a charity art website on the verge of new beginnings. But all grouped together, it feels huge, too huge, and I relinquish myself to the confines of my room to meditate, to breathe.
Hiro Boga reminds us in this amazing post that when we surrender to the flow it carries us to where we are meant to be.
I say out loud, “Surrender.” I surrender and know, with the sounds of my own vocal cords meeting the air, that my vulnerability, my fragility, and even my tiredness are my strength. They mean that I’m giving all that I can to the things I believe in the most, and that following this path will lead me to exactly where I am meant to be.
Have an inspired week, wherever you are, whatever you do.