Diary of an American Woman in Italy
I cannot believe that we are now into the second week of September, the 6th month of our two years in Italy! The days seem to be flying by and we are at the one-quarter mark. I have been frantic to paint this city. I have actually filled one of my journals with paintings and I'm well into the second one. All the little impressions of things I have seen since we left Phoenix. It has been an amazing experience. In Phoenix, the month of September would only be more of the same heat, knowing full well that there was still a whole month at least to go before the weather cooled down. Here, it is a different story. Already the days are getting shorter. The sunrise that a few weeks ago was well before 6 am is now inching towards 7. Of course, this is when the sun makes it way over the mountains in the distance, so I am not sure what the exact time is. I can tell that the sky is brightening long before I see the sun pop up over our horizon. The month of August brought a lot of rain and cooler temperatures and I was sure that fall had arrived - which seemed like a very abbreviated summer. But then this past week has been quite gorgeous, warm summer weather with blue skies and women in bare, sleeveless tops, the young ones with their stomachs out (at the very least), in their low-cut tops that almost expose everything and low-slung bottoms on the other end! I have noticed that the ones with really nice figures looked terrific, showing off their lovely tiny waistlines and I wish I could perfect "the walk" these Italian women have as they sashay down the street, hips swaying and breasts bouncing - it's quite a sight. Unfortunately, not everyone looks good in this style and we have seen far too many young women with "dunlap" (when the belly dun lap over the belt" and this is not exactly a pretty sight. Where are the Fashion Police??
Anyway, what I meant to say was that summer did indeed extend itself and I have enjoyed being in the garden every day painting in my journal which I have called "The diary of an American Woman living in the Giardino dell-Usignolo, in Perugia, in the year 2005" after the diary that Rita, my landlady, lent me of a woman - Edith Holden, in the beginning of the 1900s, who kept a diary of the flora and fauna near her home in England. The title in Italian is: Il Diario Di Campagna di una Signora Inglese del Primo Novecento." (The Country Diary of an English Woman in the Early 1900s) She died young and, from what I understand, (this version is printed in Italian) it was discovered after her death and published. It reminded Rita of my journals, she said, and I was quite flattered. It's a beautiful book with this woman's paintings and sketches and lovely longhand writing, in the old style, documenting the changing seasons and the things she encountered each day. I began to feel worried that I would leave this place not having captured enough of it and so this journal is of the little things - the rose buds, the way the ivy grows around the bench, the way Giovanni, the gardener has tied up some little trees, grapes and dahlias, little flowers growing up between the stones, the sage and rosemary by the wall. I was quite overwhelmed by it and could not seem to focus on what it was I wanted to paint and then I decided that the garden is really a sum of its parts, all the wonderful flowers and plants that grow there. It is my Secret Garden. And that if I had a little book, page after page of all the beautiful things there, that perhaps I would be painting a bigger picture in reality of a garden simply brimming with color and shape and texture. I hope to continue to document this place until the moment I leave it and to watch the changing colors as fall overtakes summer and the days grow shorter still and the temperatures drop. I only hope it doesn't become too cold for me to paint outdoors but I'll just have to deal with that when the time comes! Already the leaves on the grape vines are turning shades of yellow, red and purple in places. The grapes are a bit tart still but I suspect they will be sweeter soon and ready to pick and eat right off the vines. We always feel a bit like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, picking fruit right off the trees to eat. The way it was intended I think.
I vacillate between being absolutely euphoric to be here and sad that the days are just going by too quickly for me to do all the things I had hoped to do here in Perugia. I hope that we have taken enough photographs to provide me with reference material for future paintings and that I am able do it that way. I always like to paint the things that are right in front of me and not usually from a photo so we'll see how it goes. In the meantime I will be desperately trying to put down on paper the things that I see and hope I can do justice to this wonderful city I have enjoyed so much.