Do you ever get ambushed by alertness right when you don't need it? Like at 2:46 am?
Clearly, I do. Okay, it was not a total ambush, I did have that Diet DP at 6 when I knew I shouldn't indulge in caffeine. This is a lesson I relearn a few times a year.
But, as I lay in the dark and try to resist starting another novel, my mind wanders. And, oddly it enough, it flutters to rest on Mario, an 80-something year-old vineyard keeper in Tuscany. He wears a wide, crooked grin and a neat Robin Hoodesque outfit, complete with cap.
Every. Day. Except, once a year, he changes the feather in his hat.
When my friend Autumn and I visited Italy a few years back, we had to do a Tuscan wine tour, and the whole thing was grand. The hills undulated beneath the lacy green of grape leaves. Clouds frolicked in an azure sky and the sun was two degrees brighter. The vineyard itself was the ancient castle-home of a seriously bad pre-Napoleon family, and the wine...oh, the wine.
But among the rich, timelessness of that experience, Mario hovers as the star on top of the tree, to use a seasonal metaphor. He lived his whole working life on that land. Loved it, embraced it, was a part of it. He embodied Tuscany. He beckoned strangers into the cellar, brought around seconds of fresh bread to dip in the vineyard's olive oil, and kissed an American tourist full on the mouth.
If I hadn't met him, the day would still shine among memories. But it is the Marios in life that lift experience beyond two dimensions.
So, thank you, Jesus, for Italy. It is a fine piece of craftsmanship. And thank you for the Italian culture, one of joy and passion and legacy. And thank you that I got to sample that, if only for a few weeks...so far. Thank you, too, for Mario and all the other people my life brushes against, who make this path so deep and verdant. Please bless him today.