The Importance of Knowing Where One’s Towel Is

Day 10. 30 June 2006

Friday. Last night, at an hour past midnight I discovered that my towel was missing. Previously hung out to dry on the rails outside the window it is not to found there anymore. I check to see if I left it in the bathroom; in the living area; from each of my four windows. There is no sign.

I sleep well in cooler temperatures, waking only briefly around six o’clock when everyone goes to the toilet. It is then the seven o’clock bells that wake me as the sun and view comes in through the shutters. Raising them up I spy my towel cast down by the wind in the driveway 10 metres away.

By eight-thirty Kate is ringing the (bicycle) bell for the off, and the drive round the valley to Chies d’Alpago to continue our steps. With the logs stripped tow days ago by John, Sarah-Jane and myself, Kate swaaps the groups around and we work on the steeper, higher sections of the path. It’s slow work with our second step – a potentially useful stump actually proves useless as a stob and in the end we require four stobs to the one step.

We retreat to the shade for lunch, followed by a siesta during which John, Sarah, Carol and Sarah-Jane all take the opportunity to sleep. Even Jenny tires of her book after a while in favour of quiet doze.

After lunch, we settle back into step building – placing in my big log of Wednesday’s bark stripping, as Loris arrives to help us and proves to be good with the hammer and makes a welcome addition to the team. Then, at just after the craziness of the three o’clock bells Janet returns with a ringing mobile phone a live interview from the woods at Chies with Kate (for the Inglaise), and Giarda (on behalf of the Italians) about the conservation work that we have been involved with, on Belluna local radio.

A little later the Director of the local conservation organisation (a man who reminds me slightly of someone who once taught me grammar and copy-editing and thus, also of Dr Spock) also arrives to talk with us and find out what is is we are doing and why. We are almost finished our steps on the nature trail but break off to leave us something to do when a local television crew pitch up to film us on Monday morning.

Stopping off in Chies – as we are now prone to do – on route back to our nurser school, to buy provisions for tonight’s supper, we have just under and hour to regroup before going up to Irrighe – another of the villages in the commune of Alpago – which has a playing field for what is billed to be an Italians v. The Rest of the World football match.

In the end it is just Janet, Desirée and Pidi who turn up. We play frisbee, and compete in spacehopper races – although when Jenny and Kate photo finish and a replay is required, Desirée and myself, who are holding the finishing tape, walk continually backwards and so forever lengthening the course. This said, they did try to start halfway through the course for the replay…

From spacehopper races we move through laziness to mini-frisbee on spacehoppers; Sarah, Sarah-Jane, Desirée and myself making up increasingly complex rules as to telling your opponent sinestri or destra – which hand to catch the frisbee. If we fail to catch it then we have to put our good hand behind our back until all four of us are playing one handed. The rules are made up as we go along. Next we try spacehopper relay racing before a brief five minute stint of four-aside football with an impartial goalkeeper.

Later in the evening we return to the nursery school for a Jenny-cooked paster and olive meal with red wine, before going down a little after 9 o’clock to join the locals in the bar for the Italy v. Ukraine football semi-final (or as I prefer to see it the blue people (yay!) against the yellow people (boo!). We don’t finish our dinner soon enough though, for within 5 minutes of kick-off, the loud cheer that echoes all the way up the hill from the town square tells us that Italy have scored.

Following the match we linger in the bar, enjoying watching the Italian’s celebrating into the night before finally returning home to bed around one in the morning.

Day 11: Intruders, journeys into the mountain, football and shopping, and a meal at Desirée’s…

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