When my time in Foglia Verde came to an end, I moved into my new nucleo: Tiglio di Pan (Pan’s linden tree), or Tiglio for short. When I first heard this name, I felt a sprig of joy. I’ve always felt an affinity with Pan, not to mention that I love linden trees. The nucleo’s Hello Tree is a tall linden growing right outside the front door.

There are twelve adults and three children living in Tiglio (along with two cats and a dog). Not everyone speaks English here, but most speak some, and others speak quite well. As I sit down to lunch, only moments after I’ve arrived, I listen to lively conversations in Italian. Rondine (Swallow), a beautiful, sweet-spirited woman from Switzerland translates for me. After lunch she shows me around the territory.

Tiglio was once a very popular agritourism restaurant. Now, it’s large property is used for community living and growing food. There’s a greenhouse specifically for growing heritage seeds and another for medicinal herbs.

Medicinal plants in the gardenPlus, a chicken coop and a new greenhouse in the making. At the bottom of the property, there’s a small field with a stream running behind it. And beyond that, luxurious woodlands that shift into arid, piney hills. Through here, one can walk along a trail all the way to Damjl, the central area of Damanhur, accompanied by a distant view ofTiglio41 the Alps. I’m ecstatic to be in such a beautiful place. And it’s only a twenty minute walk downhill along the road though equally beautiful countryside to Damanhur Crea.

Little by little, over the days to come, I get to know my new family. At first I am shy, not knowing more than a few words of Italian. Sometimes people speak to me in English and translate for for me. Other times not, and I just listen to everyone talk to each other. It feels strange. It brings up my anxieties about feeling like an outcast. But then, after awhile, I realize that this will change. It will be different tomorrow night, or even in the next moment. I start picking up more Italian and make efforts to communicate.

I’ve always heard rumors about the famous Italian meal where everyone gathers for animated conversations around a delectable spread of food. I can tell you this rumor is true. During the long meals, I enjoy fresh organic vegetables, salads, fish and pasta, and sometimes wine. People laugh outrageously, gesture, yell and argue. WTiglio52hen there is a celebration, like a birthday, the tarot cards come out. Various nucleo members contribute to an interpretation of the reading.

To name a few of the folks here, there’s Rondine and her husband Volpe (Fox), a twinkling, playful older man who doesn’t speak English. Anaconda, a native of Italy who spent part of his early years in the US and who, with his partner Kiwi, sometimes collaborates in education at Damanhur. Then there’s Carmen, Zebu and their four-month-old daughter Luce. Saturnia and Gambero (Shrimp) and their little girl Amalia. There’s Iride (Iris, named for the goddess of the rainbow), Asinella (Donkey) and her daughter Alba, and Quaglia (Quail) a spritely young Chinese-American woman who is the first and only American so far to become a Damanhurian citizen.


by Ann Marie Molnar

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