Clouds sail through the Maiella and Morrone massifs
When Ross finally admitted he would like to go back to New Zealand, it was a shock. In the early days of our relationship, he had said that he couldn't see himself moving back there, at least not soon. Absence, it seems, makes the heart grow fonder.
I didn't take the news well. Although determined to make changes so we could both be happy, it felt like a foundation stone of our relationship had just dropped out. Not to put to fine a point on it, I am an "old world" creature. I like to be able to see and touch history, and I love Europe. New Zealand seemed incredibly far away.
After a while, however, I noticed a change in my attitudes.
Rosehips, from wild dogroses on the mountain road above Bugnara
Italy is frustrating. Expats have a love-hate relationship with Italy, and so do most Italians. How nice, I began to think, to live in a country where people care about green issues, where sexism, racism, ageism and most other prejudices are considered crimes, where agriculture works without subsidies. How nice, on a personal level, to have a better chance of making ends meet because income exceeds expenses.
Today, blue mountains are cloaked in grey-white cloud. The valley is a riot of maroon, vivid yellow and deep fir green. We spent a glorious Sunday afternoon collecting more pinecones on the mountain path. When they dry out, we'll use them as kindling.
We've gone through our 100kg (€12) of oak in ten days. I guess we did have the stove lit for long periods in that. If there are about 120 days of winter, that works out at €150 ish for the winter. Not bad, in comparison to the thousands we've been spending on gas. (Okay, I admit that we'll still use gas for showers and cooking, and that the stove only heats one room.)