When I was a little girl in Italy, I could often be found in my neighbor’s garden uncurling the spindly limbs of the cucumber vines and gathering flowers for my mother. I usually did this without my neighbor’s permission. She yelled at me on a number of occasions for being such a garden pest before deciding I was awfully cute and inviting me inside for a Coca-Cola (my very first).
Gisella’s garden was one of my favorite places to be. In fact, Gisella was one of my favorite people to be with. She had a cat that could jump through hula hoops on cue and a barn loft filled with deliciously sweet smelling hay. She also appreciated my snail-hunting skills and would often send me on missions to scour the nearby fields and come back with as many snails as possible.
I thought she was keeping them as pets. Aaah, the innocence of childhood.
Our families became good friends during those years we lived in Italy. And Gisella is the first person I think of when I see the curling tendrils of a cucumber vine. I’m still tempted to uncurl them.