Sicily is, and will forever be, one of my favorite places. For some reason, in my mind, Sicily is synonymous to complete relaxation. Maybe because I felt so relaxed while spending a warm Spring week there, or maybe it’s because the Sicilians are themselves, so utterly relaxed. One can’t help themselves but breath a little deeper, walk a little heavier, and eat a little slower – of which I did all three. Staying near the town of Taormina, my travel partner and I were graced not only with the charming town itself, but medieval walls, castles, warm water to swim in and miles of roads to drive and explore.
We, my travel partner and I that is, did this all without arguing – which was quite a feat for the two of us. You see, my travel partner was also my quasi-long-distance-boyfriend. I say this, because we had never lived in the same country, yet met every few months to see each other. This went on for a few years. It was an utterly dysfunctional relationship from the beginning, that on it’s last breath, ended in utter dysfunction; him coming to the US to work temporarily, quickly filling his bed with someone else, while I… well, continued to fill my bed with myself….and my dog. But I digress……
During one of our day trips near Mt. Etna, we decided to find a trail we read about that led to a river. Parking in what appeared to be a visitors parking lot in the center of a small village, we proceeded to take a foot path situated discreetly by an old and crumbling house. Chain-link fencing rose up on each side of the path, and just a short walk in, I discovered why. There was an archeological dig right there in the middle of the neighborhood, behind an apartment building. The “dig” itself looked quite old, like perhaps they had been working on it, decided it was enough for the time being, added more fencing so nobody would disrupt what they did happen to find, and went about their way to another “dig.” It was a sight I had seen many times while traveling through Italy; archeological digs forgotten about. I wondered if any photographers had ever considered a series of photos of forgotten “digs.” It’d be a fascinating subject really.
The path went on for quite some time, and before we knew it, we were in an open field, surrounded by gentle rolling hills, a few Norman ruins still standing erect on one of them, and an orange grove, fenced and locked, with a “for sale” sign hanging on the gate. The orange trees were heavy with fruit – like an old woman heavy with grocery bags, waiting for someone to help with her burden. Happy to oblige, and much to the dismay of my travel companion, I scaled the small stone wall leading to the orchard and began climbing a tree. When I was a kid, I practically lived in the trees. I was no Jane – I was Tarzan himself, only the girl version. I still, at the age of 40, have a few scars on my knees to prove it. Filling my skirt with oranges I gingerly made my way down the tree and over the stone wall, and began enjoying my loot.
While peeling an orange, the juice filled my hands, running down my forearms, and onto the dirt beneath me. I tried to capture all of it in my mouth, savoring the sweet taste of my hard-earned work (well, not really….It was an easy climb.) It was by far the sweetest and tastiest orange I had ever had in my life. I can’t decide if it was so delicious because it was really that tasty, or that it gave me more than taste….it gave me a feeling of being a child again, climbing trees, eating things off trees and bushes, and feeling free…..