The other day I took a writing break and walked to a nearby cafe, where someone had happily left behind two sections of newspaper. I do the overwhelming majority of my newspaper reading online — which is just fine. I can barely keep up with the New Yorkers that invariably accumulate; nevermind stacks of newsprint.
It is so nice once in a while to read a real, actual newspaper.
I read Jim Yardley’s article on southern Italian Olive Trees, which was by turns sad and lyrical. He begins: “Across the stony heel of Italy, a peninsula ringed by the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean, olive trees have existed for centuries, shaping the landscape and producing some of the nation’s finest olive oils.”
And continues: “The spittlebugs will start flying this month and have served as a primary vector of the outbreak, chewing on the leaves of infected trees and then carrying the bacterium to other, healthy trees, like an unseen wildfire.”
I want to admire Yardley’s evocation here: stony heel; the fortuitous word spittlebug, the language of which is so apt for the threading disease these insects will spread.
And the profoundly human dread that Yardley finds among the olive growers:
“‘We are scared to go to work in the fields in the mornings,’ said Pantaleo Piccinno, a major olive producer… ‘You leave in the afternoon, and everything looks normal. Then you return in the morning, and you see the first symptoms,’ he continued.”
Ah, how true is this impulse, this hands-over-eyes avoidance I know so well.
This is one of those articles where the beauty of the writing underlines the human and environmental heartbreak it depicts. How interconnected a world we are, how laced with loss.