Chino, the librarian
When the owners of the farm that we rent were visiting in October, they asked about the ‘guest cat’ Chino and exactly what he did. I said that he took some sun and chased a few lizards but not much else since this was not his territory.
“Oh..” Richard said, “he’s a fireplace cat.”
“What’s a fireplace cat?”
“You know, a cat that sits in front of the fireplace and doesn’t do much.”
Chino was more than a little insulted and wanted me to point out that during his time with us he was pursuing a serious academic study of American culture and that he has many responsibilities at the farm where he lives. While I was at his farm picking olives he shared with me some of his activities.
Guarding the property
And it turns out that he is also in charge of the J&G Hardy Lending Library. He waived his normal 2 book checkout limit and allowed me to take home a big bagful. Which has turned out to be a really good thing since it has rained for most of the month of November.
Two of the more interesting ones that I have read so far are Dear Olivia by Mary Contini and Ciao Tuscany by Allan Parker.
Dear Olivia (to quote from the dustcover) is “the story of (Mary’s) grandparents, the humble Italian shepherds who emigrated to Edinburgh and then helped transform Britain’s food culture.” I found this book very interesting because it was not the story of immigration to America. There was a good bit about how Italians living in Scotland were treated during WWII and a lot of the feelings of the wives/mothers/daughters that are a big part of any family story. A good general read for anyone.
Allan Parker, a New Zealand journalist, also wrote Seasons in Tuscany. Which I did not see on the shelf but will now have to ask Chino, the librarian, if it is available. I enjoyed Ciao Tuscany so much that I plan to buy a copy for the guest house. Parker and his wife Nancy rented a villa near Trequanda, which is a 30 minute drive from us. All of their adventures and places that they visit can easily be enjoyed from our farm too. It will be a good resource to help guests learn more about the small towns around us. And one that I will suggest to guests to read before arriving.
I guess Chino with his excellent literary tastes is more than a fireplace cat.