Thursday, July 23, 2009
Familiar Flora, Foreign Fauna
If you move to a part of the earth where the vegetation differs greatly from that where you grew up, getting back amongst familiar plants and trees is always a good connection to the past. On the other hand, a brief glimpse of an unfamiliar animal species is a great bridge to a new plane of understanding. For the past week, I have had both.
My family and I had been sweltering in a Roman heat wave when we decided to seek cooler temperatures in the low mountains of Tuscany. We chose a bed and breakfast in Abbadia San Salvatore built at an elevation of about 800 meters. The days were drier and cooler than those in Rome but still stunningly sunny and we all welcomed the comfort of the pool.
I especially enjoyed our daily walks through the woods where the abundance of oaks, maples, and elms reminded me of Maine. The complete lack of underbrush and biting insects made for comfortable walking and was a welcomed improvement to what I recall of my woods adventures of the past.
Another major difference was the types of animals we encountered. While deer are abundant in Maine, the deer we saw in the Tuscan woods were darker with rounder faces but equally agile and graceful in their bounding escapes. In the category of “animals I had never encountered in the wild” I was most impressed by the families of wild boar that seem to travel together at all times. I had heard they were quite fierce but the locals did nothing to reinforce that notion.
My point (I think) is this. I felt at home in the woods and was able to relax. But I knew I was someplace new and exciting, which added to my enjoyment.