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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Chestnut season

Allora! The weather is still holding, pleasantly warm temperatures during the day and balmy evenings. Today we were in Arcola finishing the autumn clearing job. I applied the strimmer to the top terraces, even clearing up some corners I hadn’t attempted before. There is a beautiful olive tree on the very top, which I very much assume is on our land, but which was totally overgrown by 2 ancient, rampant vines and plenty of ivy. The tree is actually heavy with olives this year, so I freed it from the invaders and cleared up the ground underneath. While putting down the strimmer for a minute I had a little, actually quite a big, visitor who settled on it for a wee while, a Praying Mantis. Not only people in Italy are religious…

This work ,of course, resulted in plenty of burnable rubbish. So Susan lit a fire nearby, and then went on the hunt for some lunch. Chestnut season is in full swing, so she collected a good kilo of them, which we roasted on the fire, Hmmmmm! We had already feasted on chestnuts on Sunday, when we went to the Sagra della Castagna, the chestnut festa, at Barbarasco on Sunday. Apart from roasted chestnuts we had pancakes made with chestnut flour topped with ricotta cheese, ravioli and lasagne made from chestnut flour with a ragu sauce and finally sgabbei, puffed up bread balls, with a selection of cheeses and salumi with not a chestnut in sight. A couple of handfuls of roasted chestnuts actually fills you up better then a sandwich.

As the fire burned down we threw the hot embers down a terrace into the entrance of a hornets’ nest. Not that I have something against hornets per se, but they built their nest inside the base of a rather large cherry tree of ours, which has been hollowed out by termites and which is likely to die and collapse soon anyway. It also blocks the path to what this summer was our lettuce bed. Just passing the nest was fine, but when Susan was trying to dig it over last week to turn it into a pea bed, they got a bit upset and stung her. So to enable us to cut down this dying tree and to grow peas behind it these hornets, I’m afraid they have to be evicted. Not sure yet if it has worked, but it certainly created a panic amongst the insects.

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