Resting in Ferragosto?
...but not in Italy!
Rest was ordered by my doctor. Not by my husband. Nor my orthopedist. Nor my rolfer. But by me. My internal doctor that knows what’s good for the external me. Unfortunately, it’s also same one that knows I go a little stir-crazy when I feel “fine” but am forced to stop.
It hurts. It’s more painful than pain. For a body to sit in that kind of stillness.
Luckily, while I have been somewhat limited in my lower extremity mobility, my digits, itchy as they get to write, can still move effortlessly over the page or keys for short bursts of time to share with you the good news.
I am adopting the Italian custom of Ferragosto!
Most of us crave the lifestyle of the Italians (without realizing, it’s governmental structures and socialized medicine that mostly allows for such a sprezzatura attitude). We want mornings to start late with a una tazza di espresso. We want our work afternoons to halt for riposo. And we want cene lunghe that lasts for tre ore o più.
And we want to celebrate Ferragosto, as the Italians do. What? You don’t know about Ferragosto? Certainly, you’ve heard how Italians take August off and head to the mountains or the sea, but do you know why?
Ferragosto originated during the times of Augustus, the Roman emperor. (Augustus-August-Agosto). And the word ferra comes from the Latin feria/e, meaning holiday or time off. In ancient times, Augustus, perhaps mimicking another custom of celebrating the ancient Roman god Consus, ordered a break for his people during several days, one on the first of August, another mid-August, to take refuge from the hard agricultural labor and the heat of the season. Everyone migrated to cooler or more relaxing environs, including the poor people who were “allowed” to leave the city for a time. The pagan tradition grew and grew. At some point, Christianity spread into Italy and the church, seeing how the Italians were already marking a pagan holiday during this time, and as it is want to do, adopted August 15th as the Feast of the Assumption. Now there would be multiple reasons for Italians to mark the middle of August, or extend the observation of rest to the entire month. We should too!
In honor of Ferragosto, I’m going to recommend rest and relaxation, with a few good reads and books to checkout. I also have a few updates and tidbits that might useful in plotting your return in the fall.
My essay, WEDDED TO THIS SOUP, about Italian wedding soup, was selected for publication by Ovunque Siamo, a quarterly publication of Italian American writing. This piece, and a several others, offers readers a glimpse into my larger project and I promise, will make you hungry.
Give a follow to ohio_in_type on Instagram. While digesting a large quantity of books several years ago during my recuperation from a knee injury, I noticed a trend. Many fiction writers were determined to reference Ohio in their work. A main character’s uncle went to college in Ohio. A co-worker’s mother lived in Ohio. You get the idea. I know this has happened to you. Writer Dawn Powell once said, “All Americans come from Ohio, if only briefly.” On ohio_in_type, my friends and I are collecting references to characters who share in Dawn Powell’s philosophy and sharing them with you! We’ve got a few posted already. Maybe you’ll want to check out those books for a good read or share your own finds through DM.
Read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ KLune- I don’t know how I discovered this book, but was delighted when I received my library notice for pickup. While the storyline might tends toward YA, its premise of an orphanage with “children” possessing many talents others might deem unfit for society resonates with our world today.
If that’s not your bag, check out Emma Straub’s This Time Tomorrow, a novel about going back in time and making different decisions. The story centers around a father and daughter. And I am seriously missing my dad the closer we get to my son’s wedding. But we all have our ways of reaching across time and space. I feel him with me every day.
And if you can’t wait for the The Serpent Queen: Caterina de Medici series, to come out on STARZ September 11, try reading the book by Leonie Freida (an author who speaks five languages) about the Renaissance Queen of France, on which the series is based. You’ll get your fill of lines like “his judgement did not match his breeding,” and “enjoyable though it doubtless would have been, Catherine had too much on her mind to bother with vengeance.”
If you’re in a place of tenderness, caring for others in your life, check out our FREE virtual Caring for the Caregiver writing experiences, sponsored by Giving Voice Foundation. Nov 9, 1:30-3:30. Or our FREE Grief Expressions writing experience, sponsored by Hospice of Cincinnati, on September 8th.
Another upcoming workshop I’m excited about includes a partnership with Fotofocus and the Lloyd Library: Visions of Nature Across Time and Place. October 22, 2022. 10 a.m. - 12:30. If you haven’t been to the Lloyd, now’s the time to check it out. It’s the most under-the-radar museum/library/resource center in our city.
Recently, my editor returned a draft of my memoir about stories from our Italian American family’s table, title TBD. I’m reluctant to jump back in. It’s just not in my best health interests for now, and I presently don’t have the mental acuity or endurance required. Plus, I’ve a very important wedding to attend.
I also know I need a BIGGER SPACE of time to process the edits necessary to complete the work. Finally, there’s a larger, and deeper, emotional aspect to consider as I parse through any changes. One must understand when it’s time to dive into the deep end, and when it’s time to sit out on the edge.
I’m still going to take a peak. It’s August, and with this heat, I can still dangle my feet in the water, reflecting on my words.
Ci vediamo! Buon Ferragosto!
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