This past Sunday, I had a perfect day. Jack and I went to an event that I not only loved – but drew me back to my childhood. Growing up in Somerset County, New Jersey when it was still pretty rural agrarian, I experienced lots of farm life. 4-H introduced me to kids who grew or raised just about anything America ate. Sunday, I thought of my childhood, how much growing up in a farming community shaped me and the work my grandmother did on her subsistence farm. Festa Della Trebbiatura in the Contrada Montagna in Morcone harkened back to farm days of old and celebrated the contadini – farmers – of the Matese Mountains. The type of people my ancestors were.
Did I mention mountains? Those of you that know me, know I clutch the death grip in our Fiat whenever the wicked Jack drives like an Italian around the S curves sans safety rails on mountain roads. This trip around those curves was worth it. The views were incredible.
I need to take a moment to praise my Jack a wee bit. From the town center of Morcone – which is literally clinging to a mountain – we made a left at the Auto School and drove up. We didn’t know which way to go when the road split. We opted for the one that looked steeper on the left. It was really su, su, up, up. Shit, I screamed as Jack hit the breaks. The cobblestone street narrow to begin with had cars parked on both sides and didn’t go anywhere. Jack backed our large car down the hill and didn’t take the mirror off one single parked car. Hugs to him.
Back to the Festa. We found out about it from Antonella Lombardi, owner of Bar Mix Fantasy, and a member of the Lombardi family that produced the event. Thank you Antonella for making sure that I knew about what turned out to be a wonderful day. When we got to the farm and I saw the rows of seats under the trees and the Priest ready to start mass, I smiled and sat down. Hearing this great speaker do the mass surrounded by mountains, fields of grain, a clear blue sky and floating cotton clouds started the day beautifully. After mass children went for “hay” rides on the farm wagon festooned with shafts of wheat. We walked through the exhibition set up by the Museo del Contadino and I kept pointing at stuff that had been in my grandfather’s barn. Since we sold the family property and all the relics two years ago, it got a little painful to see the artifacts.
During the day, people could wander through the World Wildlife Federation Preserve in the mountain, watch demonstrations and eat country fare. One of the featured foods was pecora interrata. Interrata means underground. Of course that is what I had! In the evening there was music and dancing. Since the zanzare, mosquitoes, and I have a love/hate relationship, they love to eat me and I hate them. We left before it got dark.
The word trebbiatura means threshing the grain. There were glorious fields of wheat in this part of the mountain. We were celebrating the harvest and the people that make sure we have bread and pasta on the table – the farmers. The first threshing methods involved beating grain by hand with a flail, or trampling it by animal hooves. The demonstrations included women doing this. Women were doing lots of the heavy work – this is still not unusual in our little village of subsistence farms. What was even more fun to watch was the early threshing machine!
(Uggggg – Jack just told me I have a typo in a caption in the video. Sorry.)