Good Reading : July 2008
24 good reading ı JULY 2008 On a tiny island off Sicily, MARC LLEWELLYN found inspiration in the form of a peasant farmer called Nino. behind the book island life Above my desk is a quote I’ve picked up somewhere: ‘Where is this daily activity taking me?’ it reads. It’s a question I rely on more and more these days as I try to simplify my lifestyle.You see, I’ve been seeing things in a different light since I’ve returned from a year living on the island of Lipari (the largest of the Aeolian Islands, known in English as the Islands of the Winds). The catalyst for my great ‘me change’ was a peasant farmer called Nino. Through working side by side with him, whether it was harvesting capers beside the Mediterranean Sea or trapping rabbits under the stars, I slowly came to understand the meaning of happiness. My adventure started while travelling around Europe with my wife.We’d stopped off to visit Justine, a friend of ours from Australia. She’d fallen in love with a prawn fisherman while on holiday in Rome. It was his first time off the island of Lipari. She spoke no Italian and Orlando spoke no English, but the language of love was enough, and she followed him back to the Islands of the Winds. We visited in summer, when the weather was glorious. Colourful fishing boats were bobbing in the harbour. Houses were prettied with pink bougainvillea.There were shimmering olive groves and neat lines of vines. ‘Why don’t you live on Lipari too?’ asked Orlando one evening as I was crunching through the crispy shell of a shrimp he’d caught that morning. He could take me out on his family’s trawler. He could pay me in crustaceans and fish, in return for a helping hand. I almost choked. It was just about the biggest challenge to reality that I’d ever encountered.We had jobs in Sydney after all, and a unit, and a rather large dog. Still, his suggestion made for enticing daydreaming. Sometime after we returned to Australia Justine rang up. She told me she had found a rental place up in the hills, overlooking the sea, if we were interested.What could have easily remained a lazy dream, had suddenly turned into a serious opportunity to cast ourselves adrift. But, before we had time to give it serious thought, my wife discovered she was pregnant. All thoughts of heading to he island were shelved. Deep into her pregnancy he visited our posh local beach. Groups of yummy mummies sat beside their spanking new prams, comparing lactation consultants and designer nappy bags. My wife panicked.This wasn’t what she wanted at all. And a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean seemed just about as far away as you could get from it. So, soon after our little boy was born, we packed in our jobs, sold our unit, and sent our dog off A view of the sea and Salina from Lipari, with Nino’s ‘casetta’ or storehouse too.