September 3, 2013

End of Summer

Already 3 September! A memorable summer, but too fast. Seems a moment ago that we boarded the Charlotte to London flight with our grandson.  Now the days are shortening and I already can sense the late autumn evenings when darkness falls so early.  Sometimes I think I’d like to explore some endless summer agenda, traveling with the sun all year so that winter never becomes an issue.  But, no. I do love crisp January mornings, with the sky a Carolina blue.  February, though. Forget February. I’m heading somewhere else, if possible. Turks & Caicos???? Tulum?

Summer! So heavenly. This one, especially. In late June, we had the grand pleasure of introducing Tuscan Sun Wines–two white, four reds, and a prosecco to come–in Italy. It was like a grand wedding, only with no bride or groom.



Each label has as scene painted from one of my books. They are wines to drink every day, as well as for great occasions.  Our friend Paolo Castelli, who owns Trattoria Dardano in Cortona, threw a fabulous dinner at his country place for 150 celebrating souls. We have partnered with him for our wine, Tondo Tondo.  In Cortona dialect, that means Just Right. Everything’s tondo tondo.  We had a gala dinner at Il Falconiere, a big pizza party at our house, a festive lunch at Avignonesi Vineyards–one of my all time favorites and a partner of ours in the wines. My wonderful partners in the project are Danny Keefe and all the wonderful people at Curious Cork and Banner Media in Denver.

Enoteca Molesini sponsored a tasting in the piazza.

 It was fun!  We love the wines. They are drink-now wines and are priced at $10-23 a bottle.  So, affordable. Now, we are looking forward to introducing them in the USA, starting in Denver.  Please visit for various events and details.  Starting Sept. 10, there are tastings around town, dinner at Pizza Repubblica, a media event at the Denver Museum, and several TV appearances.  Would love to meet any of you readers of this blog there! After that, other states will be added. Each state has its own regulations; a complicated business to go national.

The last part of our Italian idyll this summer consisted of organizing the teams for a new roof at Bramasole. Tell it to your local roofer who gives a five-year guarantee: the roof on Bramasole is 275 years old.  We don’t know what we’ll find when those mossy old tiles come off. We also will restore some of the facade, and have found two young women who restore renaissance paintings to blend the new stucco with the old.  If we don’t repair, water gets behind some of the broken places and more stucco fall off.  We don’t want to change the colors that I once described as looking like “a box of crayons left to melt in the sun.” A crane is already in place, the Italian August shut-down is over, and work begins soon. As soon as we can, we’ll fly back to oversee.  Ah, yet another restoration project! We had time for one starry-night dinner at our mountain house.

On the interior side, I managed to read a stack of books this summer, including Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Praised to the skies, this book delivers, although in the beginning I found her meandering pronouns kept me thumbing back to see who on earth she was referring to.  After a few chapters, you settle into her voice.  I absolutely admired Richard Ford’sCanada. Talk about sense of place.  Just the descriptions of the goose hunt give you an unforgettable feel for the bleak terrain, the weather, and how the place controls those who live there.  I enjoyed Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, and most admired her guts in naming the novel that, since it lays her wide open to the reader saying, “Well, they are not all that interesting.” And they weren’t, but they were because of her writing style just keeps the reader very close to the page. I was glued to Villa Triste, a novel by  Lucretia Grindle  about the partisans in World War II Florence.  Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson made me want to read her other books. I spent time with poetry by Cesare Pavese, and even tried to translate a few, which only served to point out the huge gaps in my grasp of Italian. Now I’m in the middle of Local Souls by Allan Gurganus, my friend and neighbor here in North Carolina.  We share the fortune in each having had Diane Lane star in something we wrote. Allan’s deeply rewarding The Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All was an early work of his, also set in his Falls, North Carolina.  This new book, coming out in September, consists of three novellas, and my early word: a stunning accomplishment! I have a stack on my desk of exciting books, including Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Plan,Cary Holladay’s The Deer in the Mirror, and Hillsborough writer Craig Nova’s All the Dead Yale Men. I would love to hear recommendations from you. I’m always looking for an absorbing, challenging book!

We returned to North Carolina for August. Meet Hawthorn and Melville. We found these two abandoned on our porch.

Too skittish and wild for any of the nice shelters to adopt, they now live here. We didn’t want them or ask for this but who can resist two playful bundles of energy? SOOO, they have a cozy bed in the basement and a feeder that doles out food for weeks. “You’re barn cats,” I tell them. “You are not coming in the house.” Melville has dashed in once and made a mad tour, not looks in the kitchen window while I’m cooking.  To the person dropping off kittens and gunning the car: You are changing lives!  But there is something about the animals that come to you unbidden…

Thanks for reading this and I hope your summer curtain drops softly and rises again to a creative and easy fall.