Spring break was over, and the boys and Charlie returned, thankfully without any animals.
Amalia and I have been corresponding quite frequently. I invited her to spend the summer with us. She wrote back that Mom had asked her, and she had accepted. Now I knew for sure Mom had picked her for my wife. That night when my visitors came, I told them that Amalia would spend her summer here in that States. Nonna smiled and kissed me on my cheek. I assumed that was her way of giving me her approval.
I didn’t say anything to Mom about any of the correspondence between Amalia and me. At lunch one Saturday, “Tony, have you been writing to Amalia?”
Now I knew Amalia must’ve said something. “I answer her letters.” I know she wanted to learn more.
“Has she said anything about spending the summer here?”
“No, nothing in the last letter I received.” I love playing this game with my mother. I remember her doing this when I was living at home.
“I think she is a nice young woman, so I have invited her to visit doing the summer when school is out.”
“She hasn’t mentioned anything in her letters. She did say something about a young man she met.” Mom’s motives are so obvious that I like to tease her a little.
When she thinks and schemes, and she does that, I watched Mom. She has a funny way of compressing her lips. I waited a few seconds and then started to laugh. At first, she was confused and then she realized that the young man Amalia met was me. Yes. I got a swat on the head, but she smiled when she did it.
School was out, and the boys had done very well. They had three more years before they would obtain their Masters’s degree.
Now the work would begin on the farm. Gardens needed to be planted, fields needed to be plowed and sown with oats and corn. The work in Pa’s garden started earlier when Dad brought his tiller over. The time-consuming job was the field for the oats and corn.
There are two times when it is the busiest on the farm. Spring for planting and the Fall for harvesting. The time in between is utilized for repairs, expanding, and enjoying the farm.
The first week in June, we had a visitor, Amalia, arrived, and we had dinner at Mom and Dad’s, welcoming her back. I was glad to see her, and she had a surprise for us. She spoke in English. I must have looked surprised, she laughed.
“I could speak a little English, so I had the English teacher at my school help me.”
“I’m happy for you,” I said that in Italian.
“Tony, while I am here, please speak in English. I still need to learn.”
The boys were surprised and glad when she spoke to them in English. Later on, I found out that Camilla urged her to learn the language. I think Mom had elicited her help to get me married, and Amalia was the one Mom picked as her daughter-in-law.
I had no objections to that. Amalia was an attractive woman who went out of her way to learn English. From her letters, I knew that she liked me. I think Camilla had some influence. Of all of Uncle Angelo’s sons, I was closer to Luis than Gene. Luis and I were the same age, and Gene was two years older. Maybe that had something to do with it.
The boys came home from camping with Charlie, no animals. I think they got the message. I did allow them to have turkeys with the understanding they will be Thanksgiving dinner. Summer was a repeat of the previous summer’s, I now had vegetables to can or freeze. Selling our chickens allowed me some space for frozen vegetables. This year I had the help of an attractive assistant. The boys asked her if there was a special dish that was her favorite. She said there was, and at the boys urging; she promised to make it for Sunday’s dinner.
Saturday, Amalia spent walking the farm. She took a paper bag and a small knife. When she came back, she showed Tony what she had. A large bag full of Dandelion. “Tony, I need to go to the store if I’m to cook for the boys on Sunday.”
Tony smiled as he drove the Chevy out of the garage with his charming companion. Arriving at the store, Amalia picked up several bags of dried beans and a bag of potatoes. She was going to buy canned tomatoes when Tony said he had some. She bought celery, carrots, kale, and lemons. “Tony, do you have cheese?” Tony said he did. She asked mozzarella, and he said no. Next was rice and bread crumbs. Smiling, she said she was finished.
Checking out, Tony added a candy bar. “We’ll split it.”
Arriving home, Tom saw them and helped to carry the groceries into the kitchen. When Tony’s mom and dad came over for dinner that night, the boys told them that Amalia would cook something for them on Sunday.
Now the language changed to Italian as Mom questioned Amalia as to what she had planned on making. Amalia told her. Mom smiled. Now in English, I’ll come over and help.
The boys and Charlie were confused, “Amalia will make two Italian dishes that are not found in Italian restaurants. I’m sure you will enjoy them. I know I will.”
Saturday, when Mom and Amalia arrived, they began to prepare Amalia’s dinner for Sunday. At lunch, I noticed the dandelion was rinsed and in a bowl. I suspect that will be the salad or at least part of the salad. There was also a large bowl of cooked rice and a bowl containing the dry beans in water.
Dad came over for dinner. Mom and Amalia made polenta with chicken in a tomato sauce. The boys cleaned up. I mean, all of the food was gone. They waited until all the rest of us had finished eating, then they started emptying the bowls. Mom and Amalia had smiles on their faces as they watch the boys doing this. For them, it meant the food was good.
Sunday’s meal was all Amalia’s recipe. Mom and Dad came over for lunch, which was sandwiches with a cold vegetable salad. Mom and Amalia chased us out of the kitchen, so we hooked up the horses and took the carriage out for a ride.
I always enjoyed these rides. The kids along the way would wave. When we stopped, they would approach to pat the horses. Those who were going to do this for the first time had a tutor to help them. I think the horses loved it as well.
When we got back, brushed, and fed the horses, it was time to get ready for dinner. We decided to take a quick shower, and the boys headed to their apartment. I headed to my room. Dad said he didn’t need to shower as he didn’t brush the horses. In other words, he didn’t smell like a horse.
Dinner was interesting. We had rice balls stuffed with chicken in a tomato sauce. The rice balls were breaded and fried to a golden brown. I had two, and I noticed the boys had three. I smiled and wondered if they knew they are giving Amalia’s cooking their approval. We had what appeared to be a soup made with beans and vegetables in chicken stock. The boys emptied the pot. If Amalia needed the approval of her cooking, the boys did just that. For a salad, we had dandelion in a vinaigrette dressing. All dishes went back empty. But that isn’t unusual in this house with the boys.
Later that evening. Sitting in the living room, with a glass of wine, we toasted Amalia. I was getting the feeling if I didn’t court this young lady, the boys and Charlie would disown me.