Overheard in my living room last week:
Dominique (to Axa): You’re the women who did not kill her baby.
Axa: Yes, I’m not the harlot.
Before I am accused of a shocking parenting lapse, I would like to point out that this is a Biblical allusion. Bonus points to you if you can guess the story.
Dominique also has his own way of coping with the winter weather. He announced a few days ago that from now on, we will read the same story at nap time every day. His chosen story is called The Sun Egg. It is a Swedish fairy tale about a forest elf who discovers a beautiful brightly-colored sphere in the forest. All the forest creatures have different theories about the strange object’s origin. They finally decide that it is a sun egg, and hope that their very own sun will hatch out, so they can have a sun to shine on them all the time. Finally, a migrating thrush appears, who recognizes the sun egg as an orange. The next winter when he flies south he takes the elf with him, and she enjoys a lovely vacation in a warm, sunny locale with as many oranges as she likes.
Needless to say, as we all snuggle up and read The Sun Egg every day, we dream of a faraway, sunny paradise, if such a place even exists in this winter world. Wait, of course it exists. We moved away from it just this year. Now that I am well into winter, I no longer secretly roll my eyes at all the columnists in Escape From America Magazine who have retired to obscure Caribbean island tax havens (yes, I’ve been a subscriber for years. Along with Tony’s long-standing subscription to Al-Jazeera, this is probably enough to get us denied even mediocre security clearances for life).
In any case, Tony and I must have been unconsciously inspired by the story of The Sun Egg. Yesterday was a holiday in honor of the Virgin Maria. We didn’t go to church, because we aren’t Catholic, and we didn’t go anywhere else, because it was too cold. Instead, we stayed at home, snuggled on our couch, and dreamed about a vacation somewhere warm and sunny. Nope, not San Diego, because I’ve developed a violent allergy to jet-lag. It’s so bad that even thinking about jet-lag makes me ill.
But there are plenty of warm and sunny places within a time-zone or two of Italy. As Carla pointed out yesterday, we’re only an hour from the Mediterranean, although not perhaps its very warmest shore. You know how we are, though. When we need to get away, we really mean away. Far away. At this point, we would probably even consider the deserts of Tatooine. So yesterday, just for fun, we made a little list of places we’d like to fly with the migrating thrush.
First of all, there’s always southern Italy. We’d love to see how work is progressing on the new Mormon temple in Rome. And we’ve received invitations to visit from friends in both Naples and Sicily. We really need to take a trip down there sometime soon.
Next, there’s Spain. I spent a week there one summer, and I still dream about the gazpacho. And the Alhambra is on my list of top places I want to show my husband. The glorious miles of sunflower fields that I remember are probably not in top form during the winter, but I’m sure the coast is still warm and beautiful. We’ve never been to Portugal either, or to the Canary Islands. And how about Andorra, with only 84,000 inhabitants and 300 days of sunshine a year? Sounds like some exotic, vaguely extra-terrestrial destination, like Alderaan or the moon of Endor.
But where it really gets hot is north Africa. We have a long-standing date with Morocco, ever since we didn’t end up having to use it as a backup plan when we were trying to get Italian citizenship and our Schengen visas were expiring two years ago. Did you know that a few hundred years ago Morocco was the very first country to acknowledge the independence of a fledgling new nation called the United States of America?
Here’s an idea we’d never considered before though: Tunisia. In Italy, exotic foods like dates and almonds generally come from Tunisia. And the last book I read before we left for Italy this year and all my books got packed up and put in storage was Fitzgerald’s translation of the Aeneid (laggingly accompanied by a tortuously slow reading in the original Latin). I was quite taken by the tragic Carthaginian queen Dido. And one of the random one books I found at Auchan the other day for a euro was a translation of Flaubert’s Salambo, which I’ve also been reading, albeit rather slowly, since it’s in Italian. So I am more than a little interested in visiting Carthage. They speak Italian in Tunisia too, as well as an interesting version of Arabic related to Maltese. Tunisia is not too far from Sicily, and can be accessed by ferry from various Italian ports.
And in fact, any one of these locations is just a short Ryanair flight from Turin, and no more expensive or time consuming than flying Southwest from Utah to California. Too bad Tony’s company refuses to reimburse us for our international moving expenses, or pay for gas (which at around $8 a gallon here is a considerable expense, even if all you’re doing is driving to and from work twice a day). Yes, they faithfully promised before we moved out here to do both of those things, and no, I’m not very thrilled that they haven’t. Which may contribute rather more than the winter weather to our feeling that we just need a break from this place. Unfortunately, until they do, we can’t even afford Ryanair. In the meantime, all I can do is mutter under my breath, with Lando Calrissian, “this deal is getting worse all the time.”