Last year, January never rose above freezing. The winds seemed angry as they cut through Trento. The sky was always grey, and the temperature gauge at the bank never rose above -7C in the daytime. We had snowfall through February and the first week of March.
Last year, the cutting and tying of the vineyards began in March, my birthday month, and I watched anxiously as the greying man on the street below our apartment carried a rickety, handmade ladder through his own small vineyard. One day, he replaced a rotted wooden post with fresh timber. The next, he began to cut back the dead tangle of vines with a small hand-blade. His wife followed behind him, gathering the twigs into bundles. I didn’t think, how many years have they done this? I stared at them through the window of my daughter’s bedroom and wondered only how many days or weeks might still remain before I saw green again.
Last winter was as bitter as this one is mild. It rained a bit today, but for four weeks we’ve had sky and bright, warming weather. It’s mid- February, and in Trentino the vineyards are trimmed and waiting.
Two Sundays ago, my husband and I packed a picnic and took our daughter to Villa de Mersi in neighboring Villazzano, where there’s a playground and a fish pond and the roses, also, had been carefully pruned and tied. We sat on a blanket and stared at the sun through the leafless trees. When the earth is dead still, the sky is even more blue.