Tuesday, October 11, 2016
This picture was taken in 2012, that's my oldest next to this very old fig tree on our cousin's farm to give you a sense of perspective of size. To say that it's an old fig tree is a major understatement.
The kids love visiting the farms when we are in Italy and we are fortunate to be in an area where there is plenty surrounding Mesagne. The farms we visit are owned by family and friends and the love and pride they pour into their land is obvious. Their willingness to share in their love with my kids and I goes straight to my heart and stays with me.
For me it's so vital to let the kids experience even just a couple hours in the rich earth, surrounded by the farm air, the quiet sounds and the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables right at your fingertips. They enjoy picking the ripened fruits, rolling the melons to the car and carrying the buckets over their shoulders. They try to experience farm life albeit for a brief period. Still, you quite literally breathe the fresh air into your lungs and mind. It doesn't get more natural than this.
My nonna worked on a farm, actually many farms, in her life. As did her mother before her and probably her grandmother too. To be able to go back and see for myself what life must have been like for her. Two kids at home, a husband that worked at the train station in Mesagne and her on the farm, working hard all day long. Times were so different, not the conveniences (or distractions however you see it) as we have today.
Allowing my kids to be such a significant part in our history is so important to me. Traveling to Italy each summer...every.single.summer. since they were born I hope makes such an impact on them. A positive impact like the one placed on me having both lived there as a child and traveling back to visit as an adult. I feel so connected to my ancestry - to the streets my Nonno traveled, the farms my Nonna worked, the school my mom was taught, the park I played at as a kid with Scott, and the countless other connections through our family in Mesagne. I fall in love with it all over again with each visit and leave a part of myself there upon each return to America. It's such a part of me and such a part of my kids now too.
To say we are fortunate is an understatement. To say we appreciate each day there is putting it lightly. To say we are obligated to learn about our history is necessary. To learn about our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. To learn the way they lived, what they enjoyed, whom they enjoyed it with too. All of that is essential to also learn a part of yourself. Where you come from. When we are in America, I look through pictures with them, tell them about their family, answer any questions they might have. How can they teach others about their family if they don't know it for themselves? How can they learn to love the feel of the Adriatic Sea on their toes if not by experiencing it?
My beautiful Nonna, haven't a clue the year or the exact location, but I love everything about this photo. She looks proud to me - her face, her stance depict pride. Pride in her livelihood, pride in her country, pride for her family.