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A rooster on grandparents' hill.

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Roberto is a rare whistler just like my mother was. He whistles as he walks my grandparents' land, a melodious sound more akin to birdsong. It's his land, too, as he grew up on this hillside. He is one year older than me at age 47, yet the stories of our childhoods differ on important details. In 1964, if I wanted a drink of water, I'd turn on the kitchen tap. About that time, Roberto would help fetch water from a stream down the hill nearer to Rende. Alberto would come on horseback to ride him home.

This hillside is remarkably fertile still. It's not just the rank and file olive trees on the ridgelines which live so long that we can be sure, Roberto says, we're looking at trees my father and his father looked upon and maybe harvested. An orange tree stands near my grandfather's house, orange and green fruit the size of cueballs hanging from it. I twist one off and peel it, tasting its tart, almost grapefruit tang. I leave half the peeled orange atop my brother's camera bag -- he is back inside the house snapping more pictures.






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