Sunday, March 24, 2013


You can anticipate it, welcome it, you can accept or even embrace it. But at some point you'll have had enough. You'll not want a single minute more of the cold and wet weather. (Thank goodness for rooms with warm radiators!)

The forecast again was spot on. Rain. I looked out of my window just before dawn:

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Yes, the clouds are taking control. The day belongs to them.

There's no point in ferrying over to the northern tip of the lake. No point in picking a longer hike. Must stay flexible. Do small things.

How about taking the bus to Limone? I checked on the Internet -- two buses appear to make the run on Sundays.

After breakfast...

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(and after watching the odd lake ducks flirt...)

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... I step outside to check on the day's conditions. It's wet. Pretty, yes, that too: rain adds depth to colors. But it is wet.

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(the Hotel du Lac is the thin, taller, ruby orange building in the middle)

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keeping an eye on the weather systems

We layer on the clothing and splash our way to the bus stop. We're five minutes early. We wait. And we wait. Rain beats against my mostly impermeable jacket. And we wait.

Half an hour later I comment ever so meekly -- I must have gotten something wrong.

Back at the hotel I ask the ever genial Valerio (owner/proprietor) to interpret the timetable for me. It says Sundays and holidays. It's says 10:45. What did I miss??
See the little circle next to this word? That means it's a seasonal schedule. It starts next week.
Who knew.

There is the afternoon bus: that one has no small circles in its column. It's nice to be given a second chance.

We dry off and set out for a little walk around the perimeters of Gragnano. No use staying indoors: the world beckons.

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The rain keeps falling. Sliding down cobbled walkways, dripping down my once (way back when) impermeable jacket.

Diane pauses for a coffee at a lakefront cafe, but I cannot sit with her. I must keep going,  climbing, scaling -- it is the way I am programmed to be.

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Okay. No more climbing. Back to the hotel again. I am so wet that a drying session is essential. I position socks, jacket, shoes -- all around the radiator.

But shortly after two we are out again: heading for the second, but really first, because the other first was no first after all --  bus from Gargnano to Limone. As we approach the stop, I plunge my foot into a puddle that surely is ankle deep. Socks, shoe, foot -- drenched. Jeeze Louise!

The bus comes -- empty, warm.
I reach for my purse.
I don't have a ticket for you. I sold out of them yesterday.
Oh, are you throwing us off??  You can ride for free.

Finally - Limone.  I don't take out the camera much -- it is a town of tourist shops. Enjoyable, though not necessarily from behind a camera lens. Besides, did I mention that it is raining?

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My wet shoe/sock/foot is feeling squishy. My jacket is still trying to repel moisture, though it's, at this point, a losing battle.

We buy cookies for home and we admire how one small town  can get so much bang for the lemon buck. (This region once supplied a hefty portion of lemons to the rest of northern Italy.) You have never seen so many items for sale with lemons emblazoned in some fashion on them! 

To warm up, we pick a place that we think may be toasty and cozy. And it is modestly that. We drink espressos  and eat apple cake against a backdrop of very animated discussions.

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And now it's back to the bus stop. And at 6 p.m. we pull up in Gargnano again. The village bells  are ringing as we get off the bus. If I turn right, I'll eventually get to our hotel. To the left, down the hill and around the corner, there is the Olimpia Cafe.

I turn left. I want to demonstrate my loyalties to the couple who run the cafe. And, too, I want to sit back and enjoy the Aperol spritz. I can buy Aperol back home, but it's an empty ingredient: you cannot enjoy this refreshing drink unless you are with people who love this ritual too, who open themselves up to its possibilities.

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(to the right - a German couple, with beer; to the left - Italians with Aperol spritz)

It is still raining when I finally make my way back to dinner at the hotel.

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But I see that the clouds hovering around my mountain are receding again. Light at the end of a tunnel you might say.

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At the hotel, Valerio's family is there -- brother, nieces, nephews, other unidentifiable children and adults. I think about their gathering and about the business of running a hotel in your home town. Do you apologize for the weather when it rains? Do you smile and convey the feeling of acceptance, even of such basics as the weather?

Rice with bits of seafood, lake trout, lemon cake. I'll miss these simple and quite wonderful meals.

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I think back to the return bus ride to Gargnano from Limone. Diane and I both felt tired and chilled. And of course, I'd pulled Diane out of her winter home in Florida for this. On the bus ride, she tells me -- this was such a perfect day! I can tell that this is not just her being nice. She really means it.

And of course, I agree with her completely.