Every morning around 10:00, a white van pulls up to the parking area in Benano. The driver sounds his horn loud and long, then jumps out and runs around to swing open the van’s back doors and the women of the village buy their bread. I arrived a little early yesterday, sat on a stone bench in the warm sunshine, worked on a baby sweater I’m knitting, and drank it all in.

Around the corner, just inside the village gate, Anna washed a huge tub of chicory at the public faucet.

Giovanna came out of her door that’s across from the faucet, and chatted with Anna about not much of anything.

Outside the walls, Ida walked down the hill to deposit a bag of garbage in the bin in front of the bocce court and returned to the house she shares with her son and daughter-in-law, letting her gate clang behind her.

Ronaldo did what he does so well: sat on the stone wall in front of his house, exchanging pleasantries with whomever happens by. (One of the many delights of my slowly improving Italian is being able to exchange such pleasantries.)

Two women, the youngish one supporting the very old one, trudged up the hill from the apartments and chatted with Ronaldo on their way by.

Ida came out again and joined me on the bench against the wall. Soon, Giovanna and Anna emerged from around the corner and we all waited in amicable companionship. I was surprised to learn that Giovanna is a very experienced knitter (she used to do piece work) and she still has a keen eye. She spotted a mistake I was making.

I also learned that absolute fluency with a language is overrated. Friendship overcomes lousy grammar and a limited vocabulary.







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