Saturday, February 27, 2010

Triage & Vinage

The very next day Russell brought his crew of groundskeeping lifesavers over to save the drowning vineyard. It was a searing hot day and very humid. Russell, Momo, Luciano (Gato), Mateo, Gabor, and I worked from 7:00 a.m till sundown. We got 3 rows of grapevines up and trellised and a lot of smothering weeds and vines whacked down. We also freed the pear, olive and other nearby trees of tree strangling wires and vines.

Many of the vines were sick with rot and mildew and the Italians on the crew wanted to prune them back severely. But I knew we were stressing them just to bend them back upright and expose them fully to the harsh Tuscan sun. Every leaf is a sugar factory and I wanted to let them use every one to recuperate. So we only cut back what was necessary to straighten and untangle them.

We put in some new posts and ran new trellis wire where needed.

And in the end, we had to prop them up with what we had on hand. Very contadino.
It wasn't pretty and it wasn't healthy, but Sally and I now had the start of the vineyard of my dreams.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Second Attempt

Sally and I discussed the minimum items necessary to "camp" cheaply and comfortably at the property. These included: A propane stove and refrigerator, a composting toilet, a solar hot water set-up, a wood stove, a futon, a table and chairs, a water tank, a cell phone, and some kind of transportation. A list that was about to be rendered moot.

May 22. Noon. Back in the notary's office, after asking if we had the cashiers checks, Mr. Kopini read through the deed and transfer papers and permissions to build, etc. Even the black sheep were on good behavior. After the last fiasco, this felt, as Sally said at lunch afterwards, "positively anti-climatic."

Except when Mr. Kopini read the part of the complicated Italian title transfer that said we agreed to begin restoration within one year from the date of signing, and would complete all construction within 3 years from the start date OR WE WOULD FORFEIT THE VOLUMES WE’D JUST ADDED, without which no habitable house could be built on the property. Ever.

Blink. Blink. This was the first Sally, Stefania or I had heard of this. Sally and I stared at each other, but neither of us said "we can't do this." Neither said "the deal is off." Neither said what we were thinking (Is this the beginning of a chain of such add-ons and costs?). We could have ripped the cashiers checks up and walked away. But we didn't. Our sense that we had already accomplished something beyond our dreams wouldn't let us. And our optimism provided a rationale: Possession is nine-tenths the law. We can sort this out later.

And so we walked out into the bright Siena sun, owners of a little piece of Tuscany, willfully oblivious to the fact that we had solved the problem of buying the property with an even bigger problem to solve.