One summer afternoon, a few years ago, family and friends gathered for lunch in the garden during one of my visits. Afterwards, the children headed down to the very neglected bocce court and I followed with my camera.
These are Greta (my niece) and her friends Ahmed, Sara and Sabrina as they play an impromptu game of bocce. I let them play and just snapped away, capturing these candid images I hope you will enjoy.
When my brothers and I were children, and well into our twenties, the bocce court was lovingly and carefully maintained by my dad, and mini home-made tournaments were held throughout the summer. Several of my dad’s and uncle’s friends were always eager to play, especially because my aunt and my mom provided them with scrumptious edibles every time. Sandwiches, ice cream and chilled beer were the very least. More often then not there would be an actual dinner party before the game, with dessert and mosquitoes after. Oh yes, the mosquitoes!
Above and below: Sara ready to strike some points while her sister Sabrina watches.
My dad used to lead one team, and my uncle Mario the other. They were both good players, so the energy of the games was always high and fun to witness. We watched, learned, teased, sometimes refereed, and the dogs would help along. At least, they thought they were helping.
Come fall, the court became the perfect receptacle for a humongous pile of colorful leaves, and I still don’t know who had more fun with it: us or the dogs. I wouldn’t mind having one of those piles right now so I could show my dogs how much fun it is to jump into one.
Above: my niece Greta showing her game.
Below: Ahmed ready for his game.
The summer games continued for many years, then slowly dwindled, even if the dinner parties didn’t. Then my uncle Mario suffered a major stroke. He survived it by sheer willpower, and slowly managed to reclaim a decent quality of life, but his mobility and speech had suffered severely. There would still be dinner parties and various gatherings, though not quite as many or as large, but no more bocce games for him. My dad kept the court for a while longer and also played a few times with the usual friends, but without their main adversary the heart had gone out of the game. Maintaining a bocce court is a lot of work, and eventually he let it go.
The happy memories are still all there, though, and they were revived on this day when the children went down to play, even on a dirty and uneven court covered in broken branches and leaves.
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