It was a mere fifteen minutes after seeing him leave the Casale (house) when my husband quietly reappeared from the yard. As he gently shut the chestnut doors behind him, he said with a look of disbelief;
“I can’t concentrate, I have tried to read the same chapter of my book over and over again, but the crickets are just too loud. ”
He slowly climbed the stairs leading to the second floor to finish his book, behind the quiet of closed doors.
The Grilli (crickets) of Tuscany have been incessantly chirping day in and day out for the past several weeks, thus keeping the butterflies entertained with their melodies as they twirled and floated through the air.
The cricket’s chirp to cool themselves under the intense Tuscan heat, and also to attract the perfect mate.
The Grilli (crickets) are fortunate enough to live in the land as well as in the trees of Tuscany.
I often think they are sitting in our olive trees just watching the world go by; falling silent only when there is a decrease in temperature, a rainfall or a possible predator nearby (me).
Their chirping had become my constant companion-so much so, that I noticed when there was silence, calling out to my husband “the crickets have stopped, do you know why?” , elevating him to the role of “Grilli whisperer.”
On one particular night, I left the chestnut shutters open to allow the gentle breeze which often finds its way to Casale Montecchio to enter. I was also trying to keep cool following an exceptionally hot day.
After sliding between the cold linen sheets hoping for a blissful night’s sleep, I arose at three AM due to the cricket orchestra which seemingly was playing another encore;
“ Settle down the lot of you,” I said, “if you have not found a mate by now you better change your tune” and with that, I firmly closed the shutters.
I do recall when I noticed the chirping:
One morning, I heard a gentle tap at the door and I could see Sergio (Contadino) through the glass pane, with a terra-cotta pot nestled in his hand. With a quick smile and a simple gesture of his finger, he beckoned us to come outside; there was something he wanted to show us.
Inside the black glazed terra-pot sat a rotund black bug about the size of the tip of my thumb. With David and I trailing behind him, Sergio proceeded to show us the holes in our lawn where this black cricket had been burrowing saying; “sono buoni per la tua terra ” (they are good for your land).
The unspoken message was; “do no harm to these special friends”, as they aerate your land.
Then Sergio gently placed the bug back into the hole, and upon doing so, the insect let out a grateful “chirp”.
I sat on the grass watching that cricket for the better part of a half hour until I could no longer see him. He gently and steadily kicked dirt from behind with his little legs, evidence of his industrious vocation.
“The deeper you get to know life the less you believe in its destruction.”– Tolstoy
On a particularly hot afternoon, I decided to have a sip of limoncello and made my way towards the piscina (swimming pool). The crickets had worked steadily all day and seemed in a particularly frantic mood when I heard someone call out “Do you know where the Maxwell’s live ?” obviously catching a glimpse of my white cotton dress between the laurel hedges.
“We are here”, I replied, as I saw our neighbor Enrico approaching the Casale through the shade of the vine-covered parking area.
Enrico was out having an arduous run-up Cypress Alley during what seemed the hottest of days, and had paused for a quick chat and to enjoy a brief rest in the shade.
As we discussed the sounds of the crickets he said “they make the noise (chirp) by rubbing their back legs together, isn’t that sound wonderful” as he smiled broadly, pausing to enjoy the sounds as sweat rolled down his handsome, tanned face.
“Yes,” I said, the sounds were beautiful, comforting in fact and I suspect, great company and encouragement during a long warm run among the vineyards.
If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can’t buy. – Unknown