Thank goodness they are flexible here. We switched our day out on Monday for a trip to the market today and managed to squeeze our lessons round such important issues as buying shoes (Marion and Jane) and freshly dried porcini (me), escaping to the cool of a café, or simply absorbing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings of the Tuesday market in Fivizzano.
Their task was to ‘notice things’ and to identify a character to write about in their ensuing homework. My last demand was that they all forced themselves to spend the last half hour on a bench beneath the planes, overlooking the valley and write. It was an exquisite hardship that left me so inspired myself that I wrote three pages about a damson, of all things. You see, taking time to pay attention means your experiences are enriched.
Today, as yesterday, we ‘took our thoughts for a walk’.
I have to credit Laurence for the phrase ‘taking thoughts for a walk’. It was the title he chose for his homework yesterday, which if you remember, had the students wandering the grounds here for a while before sitting and writing about what had inspired them. Laurence’s later homework, read out beneath the vines as usual, had taken him from Posara to Paris, where his thoughts and our minds meandered from the Boulevard Montparnasse to the cemetery there, tastings, smelling and looking as we wandered.
Pamela Mary wrote of Portugal and, her mind sparked by a reading that morning that had included the name Cliff Richard, her thoughts led her to a bottle signing marketing exercise by her daughter’s hero and mine. Other morning Tuscan walks took Peeta to Malaysia, Pamela to her own New York backyard while Terry Anne, inspired by a wooden door, took us on a journey to Oman, the Jebel Akhdar and a door of her own. Round the world we went, under Jane’s ‘green canopy’ and further still courtesy of Sue’s international list of foreign lovers.
It seems there is no writers’ block here. And while we never set foot outside the village yesterday we all travelled the world, thanks to nothing more than pens, paper and a bit of imagination.