We have a handful of days left in Spokane before we return to Florence on Friday. We’ve found our pace here – Flavia has made some friends in her generationally-appropriate cohort, the kids love the splash pad and the cat next door, and a small family of five Indian Runner ducks waddle quickly up and down the sidewalk multiple times each day, chattering amongst themselves. We’ve made good use of the grill in the garden, where I have also appreciated the rare solitary moment in its quiet, sun-warmed patches.
|South Hill gentility
A child of the American Midwest, whether I like it or not, I find that accessible green space is so critical to my sense of balance. All the Florentines ooh and aah when we tell them our address; Piazza d’Azeglio is widely acknowledged to be the most sought-after green space in town. But you know what happens when your town wasn’t really planned for development between 400 CE and the present? There are almost no public green spaces, and so the ones that are available to all disproportionately bear the burden of public demand.
And the dogs. Oddio, the dogs. I mean, I love dogs. But I do not want all my outside time to be so shared with their, er, waste. The park on Azeglio has been pretty much given over to the dog population; they are well-kept, these Tuscan canines; they are collared and leashed, but their owners do not always curb them, and the earth is soaked with dog pee. It is not conducive to relaxing or playing to be in the park that feels like a Seattle off-leash, inside the fence.
In Washington I have reveled in the parks, from Volunteer in Seattle to Manito in Spokane, Hurricane Ridge in Port Angeles; even the small but majestic park across from our rental in Port Angeles, which was used by a few dogs and owners each day, was the same size as Azeglio but much fresher. The Olmstead brothers never went to Florence to sketch out their public plans. There are, indeed, private gardens that are magnificent; our friend Tommy told me once in the Stibbert gardens at Easter that if you flew over Florence, it was a carpet of orchards and gardens and groves. I was surprised, but then considered how, on foot from street level, all these tranquil spaces are shuttered behind high stone walls, inaccessible to all but their owners and guests.
We’ve gotten our Mexican cuisine on once at Fiesta Mexicana (“Mexican Party!” the kids yell); I’ve had sushi now three times, accompanied by Jason’s colleagues, always to the same place a short walk from the office.
We have eaten a lot of ice cream here. The kids are quite partial to Brain Freeze. It’s a very American set of flavors, with some local color thrown in, as with the Palouse Red Lentil. It’s expensive though; we can’t get out of there for less than $12, which is about double the prices even in Florence, where universal access to gelato is regarded as a basic human right.
We nicked over to The Scoop on South Hill a few nights ago and agreed it was a better option for us – better portions, fresh waffles, friendlier outdoor seating not next to roaring arterial traffic. Critically, they also have a homemade bubblegum flavor, which the kids are crazy about. Eleanor got a baby cone which she loved, and which looked so kawai as to be almost Sanrio. Victor was accosted by a much larger boy who in no time brought up Minecraft, and the two were holding a Minecraft congress such as this mother had never before witnessed. Even as we were buckling Victor into his booster seat in the car, the red-haired boy had his head in the window, saying, “Do you want me to tell you how to get to the stronghold?” and blurted some rapid instructions. As we pulled away, Victor bemoaned, “But he did not tell me whether to go left or right!”
The requisite trips to our storage unit and Target have been completed. I found almost everything on my short list, with the exception of Brown Bear, who was unceremoniously left behind last year in our haste. And Target, whoa do I miss it, and I am even a little embarrassed to admit it. Everything at hand! Kid Neosporin! Paw Patrol bandaids! Post-It notes! Sharpies! Sonicare toothbrush heads. Wow. I just could not believe how many things were there that I feel like I am so often looking for and failing to find in Italy. Replacement washi tape for the two rolls that were stolen when we arrived in Spokane, along with my entire work backpack.
|A key from our old house in Norman; I scooped it up from a box of loose things, and pocketed it for the poetry.
Our insurance claim paid out for the theft loss; we always appreciate USAA efficiency. I really could not care less about anything that was stolen, with the exception of my two slim, handwritten journals; one was full and the other was just begun. Irreplaceable, but also the complete one served as a staging page for so much of what I have written here since March.
Some of you may know that I am in the process of turning this blog into a book, and perhaps more. My draft was also saved as a Word doc on the work laptop, and I had foolishly failed to back it up anywhere. Stolen. It’s probably in a garage now, or at the bottom of the Spokane River or worse. I still have my original material for it, now in gdrive, but it had been lovingly edited with stolen time of about 10-20 hours, which I am not able to find again with our work and travel and kid schedules. I’d told the agent whom I’d queried (and who responded so positively) that I would have a draft to her by August 15, four days after we return to Firenze. Next Tuesday. I don’t know how or when that is going to happen, years of pulling all-nighters in college notwithstanding. I’ve got a lot of balls in the air, and feel like my heart will crack open.
A dear high school friend told me to not obsess about a book, that the writing is good, but this whole tale could convert into a franchise. I laughed when she told me, then started shopping for a better camera, and have set
tled on a GoPro to take all of you along with me through Italy and the greater world, as I meander in my half-disorientation and observations.
I just don’t know what to do now about this artificial deadline I have created for myself. Is it an opportunity squandered? Little inner voice saying, This is crazy, etc. I welcome your input; if you have an idea, or encouragement, or advice, comment away.