Excerpt #6 – In literature or in art, there’s no quicker way to identify a locality as Tuscany than to describe or depict cypress trees. Their processions seem to lead us back in time and into the paintings of the Renaissance masters. In this excerpt, Megan is upset, and takes a shortcut home.

In no mood to greet anyone, I veer behind the hedge that lines the side yard, and cut across the lawn towards the cypress woods.

It’s probably closer to the millhouse if I go this way, anyway, than if I go all the way down the driveway and then back up the road, I think.

I walk with determination into the high, dry grass, not caring that weeds snag my nylons. The cypresses ahead undulated sinuously in erratic wind bursts, and the straight path through the woods seems to waver precariously.

I pull my cape tighter and enter the woods.

When I exit the trees my high heels wobble on clumps of frozen earth, and the wind blows steadily as I descend the terraced hillside between rows of barren vines. Finally, I slip inside the millhouse, slide the door latch and turn on the floor lamp. I’m too agitated to go to bed. I grab a few pine cones and toss them in the fireplace, pick up a bundle of twigs, and place them on top. I retrieve some bigger kindling from the stack against the wall, and build a tepee over the twigs. I’ve acquired good fire-building skills during these cold months and I’m grateful that the task requires my attention, because I don’t want to think about what just happened.

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4 Responses to Excerpt #6 – In literature or in art, there’s no quicker way to identify a locality as Tuscany than to describe or depict cypress trees. Their processions seem to lead us back in time and into the paintings of the Renaissance masters. In this excerpt, Megan is upset, and takes a shortcut home.

  1. Cypress trees do seem to have an mediaeval aspect that never occurred to me before your piece. They possess also a stately quality of old mystery that I associate with black-water swamps steeped in green gloom and the Mississippi.

    And I do love the Mississippi delta. William Faulkner wrote about Cypress in OLD MAN. The land of your description seems a flood plain too, a delta.

    Our heroine is teetering on an edgy, dark mood: the setting works well. Her mood deepens with the fire, for she seems irresolute, and lonely among her thoughts: fearful. To what end? Keep us guessing Cynthia!

    • The cypress trees in Tuscany are similar in mood, but otherwise very different from swamp cypresses. A Tuscan cypress woods is dry. The needles keep most other plants from growing beneath the trees, which are generally thin and pointed, like candles. There’s something austere and serene about them, which is probably why they’re common in cemeteries.

  2. Mauro Salvadori says:

    Nell’estratto che ho appena letto si manifesta il taglio ipnotico di questo romanzo: la capacità di tenere il lettore col fiato sospeso. Che cosa è accaduto? Perché Megan ha paura… di avere paura? Nasce spontaneo il desiderio di poter leggere per intero la storia per lasciarsi ingoiare dal vortice profondo e ignoto della trascinante vicenda.
    In poche e semplici parole lo scenario è perfetto. Viti invecchiate, erba secca nei campi incolti, zolle indurite sulla terra gelata, col vento freddo che pare dirigere una sinfonia di violini impazziti con le sue raffiche . Poi il bosco, così fitto, geloso di custodire i suoi misteri. Tutto vegliato dagli austeri e silenziosi cipressi, che simili a impeccabili sentinelle, sembrano vegliare sul cammino delle persone che si aggirano nella natura che profuma di antico, senza svelare quei segreti portati dal passaggio perenne del tempo e rimasti prigionieri nelle loro impenetrabili fronde.
    Che succede davanti al fuoco che scoppietta? Il calore riuscirà a schiarire i pensieri tenebrosi di Megan? Il fuoco scioglie il gelo, e forse la paura di Megan si dissolverà pian piano come neve al sole? Chissà…

    • admin says:

      The extract that I just read manifests the hypnotic style of this novel: its ability to make the reader hold his breath. What has happened? Why is Megan afraid? The spontaneous desire is born in me to read entire story, to let to myself be swallowed up in the deep vortex of unknown occurrences. In short, the scene is perfect.
      Aged vines, dry grass in uncultivated fields, hardened, frosted earth, with a cold wind that seems to lead a symphony of violins towards insanity. Then the forest, so dense, jealously guarding its mysteries. All watched over by austere and silent cypresses. Like impeccable sentinels, they seem to hold vigil over those who pass through this nature that reeks of antiquity without revealing secrets carried in the perennial passage of time and which remained captured in their impenetrable branches. What happens in front of that crackling fire? Will the heat succeed in clearing up Megan’s dark thoughts? Fire melts ice, and perhaps Megan’s fear will be dissolved slowly like snow in sunlight? Who knows?
      Di nuovo, Mauro, hai capito perfettament l’atmosfera che volevo comunicare. Ci sono sempre misteri nella vita di tutti noi, e nelle vicende di Megan provo di esprimere entrambi il dubbio pauroso e la bellezza intrinseca delle cose sconosciute e incognoscibili.
      Again, Mauro, you understood perfectly the atmosphere that I wanted to impart. There are mysteries in all our lives and in Megan’s adventures I try to express both the fearful doubt and the inherent beauty in the unknown and the unknowable.

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