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Il padrone

Il padrone – the man who works constantly and tirelessly.  He is always on the move, whether he be in the fields tending to his olive trees and grapes or in his makeshift open-air shed fiddling about continuously.  The rumor of movement can always be heard emanating from his direction.

With a hearty “ciao” for a greeting, his attitude is friendly but concise: strictly business.  There is work to be started, work to be finished.  But if approached with a question, he is forever able to provide advice and information about anything in vicinity of his Tuscan villa.  He is Sienese, not Italian, and proud of his home – the city and his land.  His hands are calloused with years of manual labor, his skin is wrinkled, and his voice is gruff.  His eyes may appear cold and gray, but after one quick encounter with this man, you can feel the warmth behind his rough exterior.

Today, il padrone quietly and meticulously lays out a large brown paper bag on the cement patio outside the apartment.  Next, he returns with a large yellow bucket, worn with time and the color fading.  Clenched in his right fist by two golden talons, a limp rooster hangs frozen in time.  The creamy vanilla feathers cover two sturdy wings, the sharp beak is surrounded by vivid crimson, and the cold, black specks for eyes stare fixedly but lifelessly.  The mighty bird whose robust cock-a-doodle-doo shrilly echoed through the cold morning mist now rests motionlessly upon a dust colored sack as il padrone hovers above.

He stretches the body horizontally and grasps it around the neck with a firm hand.  His other strong hand quickly begins tugging at the body of the silent rooster, and the disembodiment commences.  He tosses small fragments of the animal into the dull yellow pail as bunches of feathers accumulate in his palm.  He continues rapidly, and a substantial cluster of feathers gathers in the clutch of his right hand.  It seems as though they may explode forth at any moment, sending the soft white flakes dancing through the air as they float toward the ground.  But just as swiftly, he dumps the load of plucked feathers into the bucket and rapidly gathers another bunch in his tight fist.  He makes quick work of the rooster and wraps the brown sack around its body as he disappears into the midst of the shed.

In a few moments the sound of a hammer rhythmically ricochets as a nail splits a piece of wood.   Six, eight, ten regular bangs and a brief pause before the next nail is put in place.  He has begun his next activity, the work never ceasing.  The man is forever in action, and every action is deliberate and obviously of utter importance.  Because his actions are what keeps things in order and what makes the world go round – at least his world continues to revolve smoothly and without a hitch.