Inside each of us there is a place I believe that we long to call home. Even though I am from Ireland and very proud to be Irish there is also a part of me that never quite felt ‘at home’, like a part of me was always treading water looking to put down deeper roots, to really ground myself, to stop and to be very still. A part of me that wanted to stop chasing, rushing, finding and searching.
So last September Vincent and I came to Italy for 5 months because after two years of being snowed in with frozen pipes etc. we really didn’t have it in us to do another Irish winter. We didn’t intend to stay long term, we were just going to take some time to regroup and Vincent was going to finish writing a book that he had been working on.
And then everything changed. We found our ‘home’. It kind of snuck up on us when we weren’t even looking for it, but day by day it enchanted us and called to us and I could feel the roots of my being sink down into the soil, effortlessly.
Considering I am still learning the language so much of this place is familiar to me, the people, the landscape and the way of life. Some of our neighbours are goat herders and farmers, I know these people because I grew up on a farm, the language may be different but much of the way of life is the same.
There is a warmth, generosity and kindness to the people of the Cilento that sings to my soul and delights every fibre of my being. In Italian ‘lento’ means slow, and in the Cilento the phrase I hear all the time when I am getting frustrated about my Italian or not understanding something is “Catarina piano piano”, “Catherine slowly slowly”, because there is a natural rhythm to life here that is informed not only by the seasons but also by the time of day, and not by the constant ‘busyness’ of our ‘modern’ world. And I love it.
Vincent has been quite ill the past 3 weeks, a potent combination of a stomach virus and grief from the passing of his mum, which led us to having a conversation late one night about death and dying, where I heard myself say, “Should I die, please don’t take me off this mountain, this is where I want to be, this is where feels like home”.
I know southern Italy is most definitely not everyone’s cup of caffè, there is a wild untamed nature to it that if you like reason and order and logic will drive you a bit nuts, but it definitely is mine. It unravels you effortlessly, stripping away all the ‘noise’ of modern life and allowing you to pause and be still and yet miraculously things get done, piano piano.
The orto’s, the vegetable gardens that dot the landscape are all being tended now that the weather has started to get warm. The land that has been resting for the winter has begun to burst back to life with the first artichokes and spring beans. You can feel the anticipation of the warmth and evenings in the piazza, the feeling of aliveness of a new season as it enters your bones. The goats are feasting on wild herbs that grow in the olive groves and on the mountain; our neighbours are making ricotta and spring cheese. And there is colour everywhere, greens, whites, pinks, purples, yellows and blues as new buds, blossoms and blooms emerge. The landscape is teeming with life and I am filled with a joyful aliveness.
I am so very grateful to have found my way…back home.
Much love from my home to yours,
Catherine Maguire x o x o