I’m a Magpie at Heart

Martin and I visited Como on our recent trip to Italy. After a wonderful boat ride around Lake Como, we and our guide began a walking tour of this lovely town. As Francesca shared with us Como’s history and landmarks, a shop window caught my eye. Quicker than you can say George Clooney, I veered in. Francesca followed. Martin did too, although with less excitement.

Sparkly sparkly sparkly!Everywhere we looked were elegant tablescapes featuring gilt tea sets, rainbows of crystal goblets and aperitif glasses, and vintage dresses. Against a huge white ostrich fan, A sea of jeweled earrings, rings and strands of pearls nestled  against a white ostrich fan. A Victrola and a small TV from the 50’s stood guard beneath a stone arch dating back to who knows when. Perhaps even back to 1400 when Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, planted mulberry trees around Lake Como to feed the silkworms. Everywhere I turned was another fantasy of color and sparkle. Every item had been arranged with a superb eye for design.

Owner and curator Maria Grazia Lopez, hosts small concerts, poetry readings and other cultural events in her shop . Taking inspiration from her merchandise, she might offer an evening on the theme of pearls or even a color. Imagine attending amethyst night, sipping violet liquor from a violet crystal glass and listening to music and/or poetry inspired by the same hue.

Maria Grazia making our cappuccinos.

Maria Grazia insisted on making us cappucino, strong and delicious and the perfect foil to the cookies she served with it. An added bonus to the utter charm of the experience: Maria Grazia’s 92-year-old father bakes the cookies every morning.

It was soon time to leave. There were sites to see and gelato to sample. But not before buying a pair of amethyst crystal glasses and a small bottle of violet liquor.


Victrola, please meet Philco!




Gifts from the Tree

On Sunday this dogwood tree was festooned with small red berries.

On Monday, bluejaws flew back and forth having their fill, squawking at the just-as-hungry robins and the more timid wrens and sparrows. “OUR TREE! MINE! MINE! MY BERRIES!”

On Tuesday the robins moved in.  They tussled with one another in a whir of wings, to and fro, to and fro. It was marvelous.  I went out to try and photograph the berry frenzy but it wasn’t possible.  So I simply stood on the patio and watched in delight while the robins ate one, two, three, four berries at a time before flying to parts unknown and their winter troves. It was marvelous seeing Nature take care of itself. From blossoms to berries to bird sustenance.

On Wednesday the tree’s entire crown was bare of berries and by afternoon the only ones remaining hung from the bottom-most and lightest branches. By now the sparrows and wrens had joined in, sneaking away the ones on the ground. They had to tussle with the chipmunks a time or two, but it was rather civil. 

This morning the tree is nearly bare of berries. My heart is full of wonder and gratitude. The memory will feed me through the winter.