|Linda gets off the train in Pescia|
My sister is a master story teller. No one who knows her well would oppose that statement. She doesn’t just tell children’s stories, although she’s great at that. She also tells stories about the interesting things that have happened to her, and she does a marvelous job at this as well. She’s not technically a professional story teller, although that can be debated, since she was an elementary school teacher for much of her life and thus was paid while she told stories to her students.
Since story telling is so much a part of her nature, it seemed a bit cruel to take her to a foreign country where she couldn’t speak the language well enough to tell any stories. But that’s what happened when Linda visited us in Italy for three weeks in late April and early May.
Of course, she could tell her stories to me and Lucy, but we’ve heard most of them (sometimes more than once, but I don’t stop her from repeating them). In Italy, she met many cousins on both the Spadoni and Seghieri sides of the family, but since few of them speak English and her Italian is limited to about a hundred words, she had to bottle up her stories She was stuck with amusing things to say and no way to express them except a few words and some sign language. She could tell Ivo that he had a “buon cuore,” a good heart, and that she enjoyed the fried snails he prepared for us and the sweet wine he gave us, but we could sense her frustration with not being able to say more. I could relate: I had lived through the same experience for the past three winters here. Finally this year I could communicate reasonably well enough to feel comfortable conversing with my Italian relatives. A couple of times I even said something clever or funny enough in Italian to make people smile or laugh—an important milestone by my reckoning.
|A smiling Linda mounts the bike for the first time.|
Unfortunately, the first time she had a chance to tell it we were with Enrico Spadoni and his family, who had invited us over for an authentic pizza dinner at their house. Linda had borrowed the bike from Gilda Seghieri, the padrona of the Casolare dei Fiori agristurismo. Because Linda was writing the story for Gilda, she hadn’t thought to bring it along to the dinner. Thus she told it from memory, a little bit in Italian, quite a bit with gestures and pantomime, but mostly in English with me trying to translate. We did an adequate job, but Linda knew that next time she would need to be more prepared.
|Linda gives a dramatic reading to Gilda.|
ment. They were about to leave when Linda pulled out the story and this time read it with polish and dramatic expression, even if she did mispronounce a handful of words. This time her audience was more impressed, as were Lucy and I.
Finally, on our last full day in Italy, we called Gilda away from her
|Gilda shows her appreciation for the story.|
|Linda adds some dramatic expression,|
but the mud stains are real.