We had a clear clear blue sky here in Maine the other day. And Kiki says it is just blue skies and clear sailing, seventy degrees in Italy every day. She sends pictures of the roses doing their blooming best. As did our fiend Dily. She sends pictures of the roses Plus a sunset sky full of rondini (swallows.)
Which reminds me. . . when we were just there in Panicale we may not have deserved it but, we were treated to day after day of early April clear blue skies. It just got in that pattern and stayed there. Thank heavens. And speaking of heavens I’ve always been interested in the fact that Italians call sky and heaven the same thing: Cielo (chee ay low). So when, for example, Sant Franicis says “Ave, Maria, piena di grazia, il Signore è con Te Lodatelo, cielo e terra …” of course he’s talking about heaven and earth.
But when you run into a friend and point up in to the clear blue we can rave about heaven or sky. And can say “Che cielo!” and not be far wrong. But, if it really is one of those spotless blue sky days there is a way to take it up a notch. And standing by the fountain the other day on such a day, Lorena wanted to know what it was. We’d already done the “Che bella giornato.” and other pleasantries. And now, she tipped her head down a bit and looking up at me. Fixing me to the spot . . . ? OMG. Yes, wait wait I know this. She and Simone taught me this a year or two ago. Hard fought knowledge it was. And now, Simone’s stopped what he was doing and leaned back and crossed his arms, waiting to see how this will play out. They are both looking at me expectantly. Neurons misfiring left and drawing blanks to the right, the spot light sun bearing down on me, was I sweating like this when I got here a minute ago? Where can you hide in the middle of a sundrenched piazza? Cielo, cielo, something obscure, that I made even harder . . . Cielo TERSO!
Grazie a Dio di nuovo. We all sigh a big sigh of relief. I wicked didn’t want to let them down, remembering how they had to almost beat it into me the first time. How do you say slow learner in Italian: Sytoo? In my defense, it isn’t hard, just subtle. TerSo is, well was, a word I had never heard of. TerZo sounds, to this American, exactly the same. Ok, ok, bit more of a “t” sound to the “z” of course. But in that same spot in the same piazza a year or so ago I just couldn’t get past terZo. Which, means third and I figured if we could say Seventh Heaven, maybe they were saying “Third Heaven?” Ma, no. TerSo means cleaned, polished, spotless. And when it is truly perfect, that is what you call Heaven. Cielo Terso.
See you in Italy,