How that first year in Longoio seemed so much longer when compared to this 2013 which has flown so quickly before us. And, no doubt, 2014 will speed by even faster? Time seems to fly at an almost exponential rate the older we get. Why? Is it because new experiences become matter-of-.fact, jaded? Is it because we gradually do fewer things with our lives? Is it perhaps some perceptive function in the ageing brain? Who knows? I’d like to know!
Many things have changed this year. Even more things have changed since I first settled here in 2005. Some of them have altered for the better: communications by road to Lucca are much improved with the new “variante” and, further up the Serchio valley, three new bridges have made connections between the east and west parts of the valley easier. Train communication, however, has become worse with the same weary rolling stock that I first encountered eight years ago.
Other things, too, have clearly not changed for the better: the halcyon days before “la crisis” hit in autumn 2008 seem vague dreams now when once fewer people had problems about “making it to the end of the month”. One did not have to count one’s centesimi so assiduously then. In the Bagni di Lucca area many hopes have been dashed and, already, several “newcomers” have packed up their bags and returned to their countries of origin. Others are waiting to get a decent selling price for their houses – something which, in my opinion may not happen for a very long time! In my own experience I have lost ten friends to this trend.
In addition to the continuing economic difficulties the area is now hit by ecological ones: 2013 been a year of increased seismic activity, with a particularly scary earthquake tremor in January, and the abnormally heavy rainfall has created landslides and flooding throughout the region. Forecasts for 2014 (at least as far as the weather is concerned – they can’t predict earthquakes, not even in Japan…) are not very hopeful and are exacerbated by the increasing rate of global warming with concomitant climate change…
It’s important, however, not to let these considerable snags get to one. I’ve noticed an increased withdrawal by many inhabitants, more bickering, less patience. It’s not a good sign.
A great man from South Africa has gone from us this year but another great man from South America is now with us. In his words: “these are times of light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience and rebellion, times of being a pilgrim people, and times of being a people adrift… In our personal history, too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows…If our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us, and around us.”
Let us hope that the never-ending worries the Italian people are having to bear will not turn them from their naturally solar and friendly character to that darkness which finds no exit to light and love.
Meanwhile further photographs from that bright, hopeful first year here at Bagni di Lucca reveal how we welcomed in the new year 2006 in its gorgeous casinò…
May 2014 be full of light for you too!