From that day time passed in a flash, yet something had remained intact.
Many years earlier I had gone down with my father from Saletto, where we lived, to Dosanna to negotiate a contract for the supply of gravel. At the time, the city was expanding and businesses were very active.
There was that strange and curious confidence in the air that everyone could build their own house.
Everything that hadn’t been accomplished in previous decades seemed to be accomplished in a few years.
The end of the war, which had the overwhelming youthfulness on its conscience, brought a beneficial vigour from which everyone could draw their share.
The contractor in question was also a building materials wholesaler. My father claimed he was a big shot and securing his trust and collaboration meant having security. Much later I understood why my father took me with him that day, as in many other days of his long and splendid life.
Our contact person’s house was in Via Dei Tigli, a side street off the main road, a Liberty villa, with a graceful and impenetrable wrought iron gate.
Despite being a few steps from the centre, and by centre was meant the church and the town hall square, it had a big garden in which large trees lived.
It was in that house in Via Dei Tigli that the business meeting took place.
In a rather large, almost dimly lit drawing room, the two men argued amiably by spreading sheets of paper with plans for buildings. The environment was welcoming and smelled of ancient woods with a scent of polishing wax and cedar. On the walls there were many pictures with dark frames, where fiery sunsets and gentle sunrises were represented, rising from untouched countryside. Later in time I learned that the artist was the painter Vittorio Marusso.
What particularly struck me was the amount of lamps in the room.
Many above the furniture, others, hung on the walls or hanging from the ceiling accompanied by wooden or very light cardboard balloons. Everything was fine and the two men had found a solid agreement. In support of this there had also been an invitation to dinner.
As an accomplice of the invitation was the unexpected summer storm which appeared suddenly to my father, me, the manager, his wife and his daughter when we were on the veranda.
The veranda also seemed a magical place, with the inlay of stained glass cathedral and numerous plants with lush leaves.
During the dinner, which was mostly held by candlelight due to the of electricity blackout, I learned that their daughter was married to an engineer, who was often outside Dosanna for business reasons.
She was a small girl with blond hair just over her shoulders, wearing black glasses with a frame that was perhaps too large. he had eastern eyes but a lively gaze flickered from these slits. During dinner she had been constantly shuttling between the kitchen and the veranda, making guests feel comfortable.
It was during a thunderstorm pause that she said: “Here there is no air, shall we go and see the magnolias?” and invited me out.
The father was a great lover of magnolias and he agreed.
The garden seemed enormous and intoxicated with perfume. Daisy carried a small oil lantern “My father cares about magnolias more than anything else.” She said.
“They are very big.” I replied.
The garden seemed enormous and very dark, accompanied by the splashing of the rain falling from the leaves. The storm rumbled far away from time to time, sudden flashes revealed the majestic crowns of the trees. There were magnolias and privets but also strawberry trees and Japanese medlars and old roses left in a hanging bush and narrow paths bordered with horse grass and St. John’s wort.
Daisy detached a magnolia leaf from a low branch.
“You know, I’m not here because I’m bored.” she said “It’s just that sometimes I feel so sad, so useless.” she passed the ruddy leaf across her lips and added “Here in Dosanna there is a saying: Between two people who do not know each other there is only light.” and blew out the lamp.
Silence began to take on a sound form as rhythmic drops fell from the leaves.
I sensed that the girl had approached, I felt her breath that stirred the damp scent of magnolia. Then I felt her lips lean on mine without intrusiveness but with a single desire. At that moment I felt that the harmony of the night had entered me penetrating the deepest tissues of my existence.
Years passed that would put even a very reliable accountant into difficulty.
Passarono forse perché nessuno ebbe il desiderio o la forza di fermarli, perché comunque la vita va avanti e si può fare a meno di tutto, anche degli altri.
Perhaps they passed because no one had the desire or the strength to stop them, because in any case life goes on and you can do without everything, even others.
Clear days passed when on the embankment of the river Pavelia we found ourselves shouting against the snow-capped mountains: “Stop the pain!” or when you discover the breach by a fox, put yourself on its trail to understand where your animals had been taken and understand how your fragility in this world had a dimension not even measurable as a human instrument.
Those times also passed when white and immaculate mornings were dedicated to reassembling boat lamps in the hope that one day they could illuminate unforgettable hours in the unpredictable and insecure sea of love.
The stays in Viale dei Pruni were also spent in an attempt to tame those sighs that rose to inflate the lungs from who knows what depth, drawn to the surface by the voice of a father.
Those times also passed when they generously made gestures, choices, not only for themselves, but in an attempt to reach a person who was beyond the greatest sea ever sailed by a human being.
And they tried to build the ideal hedge with the Cotoneaster, with the Rowan Tree, with the Rosehip, the Pallon di Maggio, the Elderberry and the Olivello di Boemia.
And we tried to draw a garden with words, with poetry we tried to make the tomato plant grow straight and shield itself when the wind tried to break the gentle and white stalk of the sunflower.
When it seemed that a single storm could overcome all sadness, the news arrived that an exoplanet had been found one hundred million light years away. This amount of light began to be counted without moving hands or even their shadow.
After getting tired of giving dwelling to the cats that ended their existence impacted by the metal machines operated by humans, an attempt was made to save at least once the life of that red tiger cat with the cape on his shoulders and the white bib.
The place was designed to house the Cavaliere delle Stelle observatory, a square fence of thick privet trees, which was reached by following a wide path, one and a half meters wide made up of the Climbing Hydrangea and called Viale della Purificazione.
She waited impatiently for the tower to raise, eighteen were raised but only painted.
To bring back reality over time was Daisy’s father who called her and reminded her that the following morning she would have to leave for Belluno.
It didn’t rain anymore.
The drops that had remained on the leaves of the trees in that garden were stored in the Hortus Conclusus of memory to protect them from evaporation, from distractions and to be able to use them sparingly as a beneficial sap when sadness had arisen at dawn.
After the pleasantries and the usual thanks, the landlord accompanied us. His wife arrived with a small bunch of violet roses and handing them to me said: “These are Damascus, they are for your mother.”
We said goodbye with the same friendliness of a few hours before.
My father and I went back to Saletto in silence, but in the end his words overwhelmed any embarrassment: “Business is one thing, fun another, remember it.”
We neither returned to the subject nor did I accompany him to Dosanna any more.
The memory of that kiss, however, always remained inside me, so every year when the magnolias bloomed I took a dozen flowers and leaves, I made a central hole and grafted the stem of the flower so as to make a boat. Then I went to the graveyard of Saletto with a small box and left these small boats to the current of Pavelia.
I never knew if Daisy over the years had ever seen magnolia blossoms pass the Dosanna river, what I know for sure is that that current carried my love.