Monday, December 5

My Typical Late Autumn Day in the Countryside

Buongiorno! I love cold blustery Autumn mornings like today. The sun won’t show itself for at least another hour, all the fires lit, and coffee on the stove. We have our neighbors’ giant dog Soum with us for the next month snoozing in front of the fire; such the perfect cliche.

Anyone who heats the home with wood will understand why we wake up at this unnatural hour in what is our ‘offseason’. Sleep in, and cold air begins creeping into this drafty stone farmhouse and unfortunately heat from a fire takes a moment to radiate out and begin having any effect. So, 5.30 AM wake up time it is! Procurement, movement, and burning of wood will be a major theme in our lives until sometime next Spring.

Comfortable alongside the dog by the fire enjoying our cappuccinos, checking the news, email, and most importantly, a solid hour of language study while the brain is fresh and absorbent before the Sun peaks over Monte Rupert.

With only about 9 hours of daylight this time of year, I set off with the dog into the hills as soon as there is enough light to see. We hike up above the Candigliano valley, walk along the ridge and descend down to the mill of Basillo on the south end. It’s a bit crowded in the woods this time of year with truffle, game, and mushroom hunters who are more accustomed to seeing pointers and spaniels roaming; noses buried in the forest floor. Constantly I must calm the fear they have of the 45 kilo Rhodesian Ridgeback walking beside me, assuring he is very friendly and does not bite.

Todays projects include refilling the wood holes and cutting back the long shrubs.

I mentioned that our lives are consumed by wood. Before the really cold weather sets in I have to move this wood pile:

Into these spaces:

Fun Fact: From the time the trees are fell until the logs are burned; we must touch each piece of wood (8) EIGHT! times. Cutting, splitting, moving, stacking, moving again, into the house, and burned. I’ve skipped a few but you get the gist.

And now it's time to trim the shrubs. Ahhh the shrubs.
Last year I neglected pruning the long shrub/bushes that runs the length of the property along the road. During that time the hedges have exploded in size and have consumed the outdoor lights that once flanked them. Before the snow arrives weighing down the overgrown branches and breaks them, I must go though and cut everything way back. With a branch cutter and a pair of shears I turn this mess:

Into this:

Pruning everything back is not that difficult, hauling all the branches away and cleaning up is a whole different matter. By the end of spring everything will have filled back in looking neat and orderly.
This can be done anytime the plant goes into its’ dormant phase.

We loose light early here in December. After another walk with the dog (shorter this time and on the road) and dinner, bedtime follows shortly behind. You could say that most 12 year old children have a later bedtime than us, and that would be true. There is simply no point to staying up late. In Summer the situation is totally reversed. Most nights end after midnight as we eat later due to the heat of the day. Now in late Autumn the cold, crackling fire, and quite combine forces to lull one to bed at a unusually early hour.

I know this life sounds totally glamorous and my intentions are not to brag. Hopefully today we can cross one project of the list and then get back at it tomorrow bright and early!
- A post by Jason

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