Mist masked the Alpine mountains, while long, low-hanging clouds sliced through their peaks this morning. They shifted but refused to pull back completely. At 10am, I pondered aloud whether to go for my daily run.
“Just go. You’ll feel much better,” answered the husband, knowing I was thinking about the weather forecast. “I don’t think it will rain.”
When, at last, the baby was asleep and knocked out enough for him to take over parenting duties, I set out.
Down the steep slope where our summer casetta stands overlooking the upper west end of Lago di Como, past a stone hedge with outcroppings of beautiful lavender where sheep graze, turning behind the town’s stone chapel with its bell tower, I cross the busy highway, and set out on a pebble stone bike lane. It curves around the lake and connects three rustic villages.
Not a soul in sight. Perfect, just like the view in front of me.
It’s Monday morning, but no one else is occupying the lake except a couple ducks. A slow start and I’m awkward in the cold, whipping wind.
I pass green shades of olive, oleander and juniper trees, low hanging branches dancing in the wind and high climbing cypress trees guarding manicured lawns. On some stone walls, Roman goddesses of marble, peer down serenely at me.
There are luxurious holiday villas, age-old Italian homes, sprawling campsites and cozy enclaves. The waves from the lake lap gently at a pebble-stoned beach. Continuing onward, I jog. No kids, no husband, no dirty dishes nagging in my mind. Only the open, welcoming path.
It leads to the next small town with its quiet harbor, and quiet promenade leading past the ferry port. My breathing taps the silence; it is calming, and so are my thoughts.
Funny how nature changes ones mood.
I think of the chores of everyday life—the washing, the cleaning, the cooking, the housekeeping. Always, someone, to look after, to cook for, to tend to. Such is the life of a mother. But I knew that before becoming one.
Today, I am grateful for one hour of silence and stillness. Just by myself and my thoughts. It’s almost surreal, my magical new home. Tucked between the Valtellina, below Alpine peaks where snow still cascades, the lake gleams now in glorious sunlight.
I thank God for bringing us here, no matter the problems and hard work it took to get us, a whole family, right where we are today—a perfect place.
I pray for peace to stay…for the strength to face each day ahead, doing all those tasks only mothers know about, to keep their home running with love and enough energy, willpower and patience.
Soon it’s time to turn around. Duties call…Baby will be awake soon, and I’ve still got the uphill run.
Eight kilometers later, I’m back up the cemetery cobblestone path, just before the bell tolls. Taking a short cut behind the old chapel, I come up on a stony, grassy slope overlooking it, and I’m now higher than its bell tower.
The book I’m currently reading, La Bella Lingua, speaks about Italian campanilism or “local patriotism”, derived from the word for bell tower, campanile:
“Campanilismo fosters an our-belltower-is-higher-than-yours local pride as well as a tendency to view even folks on the next hilltop with a certain amount of suspicion—and sometimes derision,” says author and Italian-language lover, Dianne Hales.
And if I were born in this tiny town, I’d have that campanilismo, too. It’s a beautiful place full of romance, adventure, and idyllic charm.
Turning the corner, there’s a sudden steep incline, up the road named Paradiso. I slow a bit, but do not stop.
Do not stop…
Passing the long lavender blooms, this time their deep violet color welcomes me at the end of my run. From here, on top of the hill, I can finally look back at the view of the lake from where I’ve come, see down into the distance, and know I’ve aced another nine kilometers.
Flinging open the door, I smile at the two little faces I love most.
“Mom, can we go rainbow hunting later today?” the son asks, as drops fall gently from the sky—they waited till I was indoors—and turn into a shower.
“Of course we can,” I answer.
There is a cozy fire crackling in the hearth, and the children have been playing in the warm living room. Could the day get any better?
But it does.
The laundry is washed and hung, a clean batch folded neatly and put away. The dishes are done and dried; all beds are made; the bathroom is spotless. I couldn’t ask for a better house-husband or a better place to call home.
This is what it’s like most mornings, living under the rainbow.