I have been home approximately one hour. It's raining here, the first rain I've actually been in for 3 weeks (did ride the train through some precipitation yesterday). I've heard that the Plateau is waterlogged, but I have to say I don't mind it. Cool and wet feels okay, and I don't know if I've ever been so happy to be in my beloved little rectory.
Tomorrow I will start with pictures and the real travelogue, I promise. It is just 11:30 pm here, but the time clock I've been on for the last 3 weeks says it is actually 6:30 am, and I've had very little sleep in the last 24 hours. I'm still pretty wound up from the trip home, but I have to work tomorrow beginning at 9:30, and so will have to turn in very shortly. Also -- tomorrow I get my doggies back from the kennel!
But tonight I'm just rushing in for a moment to say that I've learned so very much -- about the black madonnas, about Italy, about myself -- all for better and for worse. There were moments that were thrilling and that made me proud and amazed at myself, and only one emotional meltdown. But as far as I'm concerned, all lessons are good lessons, whether they're pleasant or unpleasant. It sure is good to be home, even with this cat I'm not sure I like very well, even with a bag full of dirty clothes (I just put the first load in the washer), even with literally hundreds of pictures from the sublime to the ridiculous, in my camera.
I'll also say that it was cool in Milan yesterday, cold in Zurich this morning (when I rode the train back through the Alps from Milan to Zurich, there was snow on the tops of the Alps, and we even rode through just a lick of it), and also cool here on my beloved Plateau. It was amazing yesterday to go within 24 hours from palm trees (in Palermo, Sicily) to snow!
I can't tell you how good it feels to be surrounded by English again -- the spoken language, the printed material, the internet (I haven't even had the TV on yet). I know it sounds a bit chauvinistic, except that I truly don't particularly think English is the best language, only that it's the one I'm fluent in. Italian is a beautiful, melodic language, but it's not mine, and I could understand only the tiniest bit of it. It's lovely to hear words I can understand again, and read headlines in my native tongue. That being said, I'm determined to improve my Italian. On the train from Palermo to Milan (yes, the whole train came across the Straits of Messina (location of the famed Scylla & Charibdys, and the Sirens) on a ferry), I heard a German speaking woman talking in fairly methodical "schoolgirl Italian," much slower and clearer (to me) than native speakers, and it was amazing. She was perfectly and delightfully understood by Italians, but also (almost) by me, and I thought, "I could learn to do this." I do know one native Italian speaker here in Tennessee, and I intend to try to arrange sessions where we can speak English part of the time (she really needs to improve her English), and Italian part of the time (for my practice).
Two days ago I would have said that I was so sick of Italy that I never would return. And two days before that I was fantasizing about spending half the year in my retirement at a lovely little place outside Palermo (more about that magic pranza -- lunch -- another day). And today I fantasize about speaking more fluently, for those places (and there are many, many) where English is not spoken at all. Go figure. I'll have to sleep on the whole thing before I have a single clue about what I may want in the future!
So do be patient one more day. I will delight you with some shots of Zurich, taken the day I arrived, and perhaps even some of Milan (if I took any!). The travelogue begins!