I grew up in north east Italy in the 80s and 90s . My family was of humble origins , my grandparents came from a little village and my grandad was one of 13 sibblings all born in the same house. Both my grandparents lived a long and mostly happy life and their graves are in the same village where they were born, met and grew old together.
As I sit here in my back-yard in England on a warm summer evening , I find myself thinking back to the long balmy summer evenings I spent at my grandparents in their simple house in the Italian countryside.
I used to spend several weeks during the summer holidays with them and every night the same ritual was repeated. We would have dinner and then grandma would say : “Leave the dishes , let’s go sit outside” . No dishwashers back then we would just leave the dishes until the next morning and find a seat under the front porch.
We would all sit together on the same bench , a make shift seat made of a thick slice from a pine tree stripped of its bark nailed to two stumps from the same tree. The outside render of the house slowly diffusing the heat of the day into the very hot air , we would turn the hose-pipe on and give some needed respite to the simple flower beds. Grandma loved her roses!
Apart from watering the plant nothing else was on our minds, we were in so many ways practising a mindful meditation. Not many words were spoken , it was as if grandma and grandad were just letting their bodies soak up the relative coolness of the evening after the scorching hot day whilst relaxing their minds.
And there we sat for some time , listening to the crickets and the frogs and watching the bats come out of their nests and feast on the bugs in mid air .
What a wonderful memory , only now I realise what great masters of mindfulness they truly were. Always present when speaking to someone, always paying attention to the little details of the cycles of nature, so genuinely in love with each other, their family and good simple food and wine.
As I sit here , looking at my own sprigs of lavender in a suburban garden of a town in England I cannot help wondering what they would make of today’s way of living, they would probably watch us with curiosity as we loose ourselves in our screens and then smile and turn to water the roses and wait for the bats to come out …