Today was tractor Friday here at Cascina Zerbetta. Yesterday evening, while I was nomming on some homemade gnocchi (so simple to make!) Paolo asked if I knew how to drive. This is a surprisingly common question here in Italy. And what I’ve learned in these situations (from an experience at Pino’s, oh how I miss him! Sincerely!) is to make it clear that I do not know how to drive a manual car. Yes I can drive, but only an automatic. So that’s what I told Paolo and he laughed and said that tomorrow [today] I would drive the tractor while he spread compost in the vines. “You’ll go very slow so it won’t be hard.”
So this morning I finished hoe-ing the new vines, a before and after picture will follow, until Paolo returned from dropping Giovanni off at school.
Some nicely weeded rows, thank you Mari and Crystal!
And then, the tractor adventure began. Now this is no John Deere lawn mower. This is a serious macchina. Paolo drives over to the compost pile and scoops a bunch of compost with the back hoe thing. I really do not know the name for this. Then we drive to the grape vines and I suddenly realize that the tractor’s width is almost the exact width of the space between the vines. Oh boy. So Paolo shows me how to shift and where the brakes are, etc etc, and then lets me loose in the vines. So I shift here and push my foot there and suddenly, we’re in business. The tractor is moving. I am STOKED. Paolo’s in the back spading the compost off of the back hoe, jamming out to some weird Italian music I’ve never heard the likes of. We’re moving happily along, and then I notice, again, what a tight squeeze it is in the vines and I stop breathing as I inch along the row. Tires thicker, and almost as tall as me are crunching very closely to the vines. They are so fragile in comparison. But I made it out and remembered how to breath. Paolo showed me how to put it in reverse and head up the next row. By the end of the second row, I was pullin’ wheelies. Figuratively speaking. And for some reason, I had the Star Wars theme song in my head, so I’m whistling the tune and pretending I’m on the Millenium Falcon taking down the death star. The second one. Let’s not talk about why I know the Falcon by name.
And while Paolo goes to get more compost, I pick up the spade and start spinning it like a flag circa 2002 color guard. He comes back and says “You were a majorette? We make a video for youtube, you spin the shovel and then say where we are and what we’re doing, and we’ll use it for advertising maybe.” He says this all like he’s been thinking about it all morning and was just waiting to see what kind of talent I had to contribute. AND, please tell me how he knows what a majorette is, but was astonished at the idea of marching band. I haven’t seen the video yet, but let me tell you that it was entirely too silly to make AND it was the first time all day I had trouble with the tractor. Paolo left it in the speedy mode, so when I went to start moving into the vines, it just up and died. That just figures. All the same, once it’s put together I will happily post it here. I mean I’ve already told you about the Star Wars thing, I’m not sure anything can really embarrass me at this point!
Of course, some pictures of the whole ordeal:
The vines – those black spots are where compost was shoveled.
Paolo, headed to get more black gold:
Pullin’ wheelies, woo!
And now, after a delicious dinner of ravioli in a butter-sage sauce, I am ready for sleep. I’m waiting on a few recipes, but I think I’m going to add them to a separate tab, so GET READY for some cookin’.