Category Archives: Ecology

Belonging in Anghiari: Filippo Borgogni

In 2017, I began conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some were conducted in Italian, some in English, and they were all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari in spring this year, I continued this project. These interviews are also being published in both languages.

Appartenenza ad Anghiari: Filippo Borgogni

Filippo lavora con la famiglia nell’agriturismo/ristorante “Mafuccio”, sulle colline vicino ad Anghiari. Mafuccio faceva parte della cooperativa agricola Montemercole, una comunità basata su principi religiosi ed etici di rispetto per gli animali e l’ambiente, ma la famiglia Borgogni sta per diventare indipendente. Ho intervistato Filippo in una bellissima mattina di primavera. Ci siamo seduti sulla terrazza, ad uno dei tavoli di legno costruiti dal padre Francesco, che è il cuoco del ristorante. C’era anche la sorella Carlotta che ha partecipato all’intervista, con i suoi commenti e precisazioni. L’intervista in italiano è stata trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio. Questa è una versione editata.20180406_113210_1523283972817_resized

Sono nato a Grosseto e ho diciannove anni. Nel 2005 ci siamo trasferiti a Montemercole, dove è cominciato tutto il progetto della cooperativa… che è stata fondata nel 1984. Ho due fratelli, Tommaso e Taddeo, e una sorella, tutti più grandi di me, io sono il più piccolo di casa.

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Belonging in Anghiari: Franco Talozzi

In 2017, I began conducting interviews with people who live in Anghiari. Some were conducted in Italian, some in English, and they were all published in both languages on this blog. While in Anghiari earlier this year I continued this project. These interviews will also be published in both languages.

Il senso di appartenenza ad Anghiari: Franco Talozzi

 L’anno scorso ho intervistato la figlia di Franco, Cinzia e la nipote, Armida, che insieme conducono il ristorante “Talozzi” ad Anghiari. Quest’anno ho avuto la fortuna e l’opportunità di intervistare Franco, di cui tutti parlano sempre benissimo e che, quando sindaco di Anghiari negli anni Ottanta, ha dato un enorme contributo allo sviluppo della città, specialmente sotto il punto di vista culturale. L’ho intervistato in una gelida giornata di marzo, a casa sua, nella parte medievale del paese. È venuta con me anche Mirella, che trascrive e traduce queste interviste, e là abbiamo trovato la moglie, Anna, e Cinzia, tutti riuniti in una stanza accogliente, dalle pareti foderate di libri con una splendida vista sulla valle Tiberina. Cinzia aveva anche preparato una deliziosa mantovana, una tipica torta toscana che ci è stata poi servita con il vin santo. L’intervista, condotta in italiano, è poi stata trascritta e tradotta in inglese da Mirella Alessio e questa ne è una versione editata.IMG-20180326-WA0000-1

 Bene! Beh, io sono nato a Chiusi, in provincia di Siena, il 23 novembre del 1937, perciò ho compiuto ottant’anni da poco. Sono nato in una famiglia contadina. Il mio babbo ha fatto il guardiacaccia in una grande riserva di un grande proprietario, in una delle dodici fattorie granducali del duca Leopoldo, il grande Leopoldo, che aveva, da Arezzo fin nella città di Chiusi, fatto la bonifica, erano tutte paludi. Aveva costituito dodici fattorie, questa fattoria dove sono nato io si chiama Dolciano, aveva 24 famiglie di contadini. Ero l’unico maschio, avevo quattro sorelle.

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Toppole in spring

 

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Yesterday, it was only by chance that we went to Toppole, a small mediaeval hamlet in the hills above Anghiari. A friend who had been visiting family in Padova was here for just a few days, and, as she has never been to Anghiari before, I’d given some thought to the choice of a nearby walk to do. In a distracted state, however, I drove to Toppole instead of the place I’d planned on. In response to my ‘oh, wrong place’ as we turned the last bend, Marisa said ‘don’t worry, maybe it’ll be the right place.’

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Weather, meetings, walking

20180318_022512-1It has turned bitterly cold, with light snow yesterday here in Anghiari, and snow on the mountains across the Tiber valley (Anghiari is located in the foothills of the Apennines, on a ridge between the Sovara and Tiber valleys). While I have been here before when it has snowed, there is something distinctive about the light in the landscape this time. It’s the spring light, I realize, that is giving a particular brightness to what would normally be a wintery view. If you look again at this photo which was at the beginning of my last blog and imagine snow on the mountains, you might get some idea of this view.

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Sun, and fire

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Yesterday, after days of very bleak weather, there was sun. Everyone I ran into, in shops, in the piazza, in the bar, said, ‘oggi c’è il sole!’ People were out and about, even if not pausing for long in the piazza, as the temperature was still well below zero. It was very likely to be the last day of sun before I left Anghiari, so I decided to go for a walk. (The weather has precluded the possibility of walking for some days now.) Continue reading Sun, and fire

unremembered love

We belong to the world and are of the world because our formative experience was one of relation and involvement – with the maternal body, and through it, with the world. It is from that primary relation that we derive our ability to love, to feel loved and to be with. But we don’t remember it. We don’t remember the oneness of the womb or our infantile intertwinning with our mother’s bodies because memories belong to subjects and this foundational love was laid down before we became identifiable subjects [bounded subjects before an objective world].

Memory is about parts, separated and put back together. Member, dismember, remember. It is the job of the subject to undertake that ‘recollection’ of discrete events and experiences and forge them into a coherent narrative. But the primary experience I am describing happens to a self that doesn’t have parts, in a world that is without separations. Continue reading unremembered love

Spiders of Newtown

 

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If you type ‘Australia’ and ‘spider’ into Google, the first pages of results are dominated by accounts of danger. Australia has 2400 species of spider, but pest control companies and tourist guides only want to talk about ‘the ten most dangerous Australian spiders’. They show mugshots and profiles and advise people what to do if they’re bitten. Since I’ve been in Newtown, however, I have seen no spider more dangerous than a huntsman.

This arachnophobic culture has supported the spread of the factoid that, no matter where you are, you are never more than 3 feet from a spider. While this claim is too simplistic,  it is truer than you might imagine. Spiders are among the most common terrestrial animal, found in all environments.  In a review of spider ecology, AL Turnbull reported spider population densities as high as 842 spiders per square metre, for an English meadow.  The average density in the 22 studies he reviewed was 130.8 spiders per square metre.

I do not know the density in my Newtown garden, but on any day I will see many spiders, and over a couple of weeks I will see many types of spider. I’ve seen leaf-curling spiders, long jawed spiders, tent spiders, jumping spiders, garden orbweavers, golden orbweavers, and many that I cannot identify. Some have bodies that are two centimetres across, some are so small I have trouble photographing them, and there must be many that I have not seen because of their size or inaccessible habitat.

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Striped Marsh Frogs

 

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In our area of Newtown, the basic house block is only about 5 metres across.  Neighbouring yards are separated by high wooden fences, and the gardens, traditionally, have been small and rough. The local council warns against growing vegetables because of concern about lead and arsenic in the soil. And there is a large dog and cat population.

This might not seem a promising environment for frogs, but even before we put in our first fish pond, sixteen years ago, we had striped marsh frogs passing through our garden, sometimes even coming indoors. I don’t know where they came from or where they were going, but, since we built the ponds, many seem to have stayed.

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