The Anarchist Seed Swap

The anarchist seed swap was cool. A town up in the hills a ways past Luino had a get together at the recreation center where people came and exchanged seeds. Just showed up and put a chair next to a long table with piles of seeds and scraps of paper. Some, like me, showed up with seeds wrapped in a paper towel and stuffed in their jacket pockets. Then, in order to trade we had to…well, talk to people, people we didn’t know. That was the cool part, talking to people about what worked for them. There were lots of folks younger and some older and kids and dogs. While I was chatting with some ladies in their 60’s with a table full of bulbs, beans and zinnia seeds I overheard someone asking, “so how can I pay you for them?” and the laughing response, “you don’t, we’re doing it for love.” I went by that table tended by 3 young men, dreadlocks and tie-dye but with tidy beards and polite. The table next to them was full of leaflets and brochures…I recognized some from a pretty militant environmental group, Earth First!, that I hadn’t heard of since the 80’s. There were refreshments: tea, coffee, homemade baked things and dried fruit.
Robin had been taken in hand by an 8 year old boy who (while I watched from the window) took her over to see the deer and baby goats behind a fence at the edge of the park adjacent to the rec. center.
Then the group of people who were gathered on one side with musical instruments pulled themselves together in a group and everyone kicked back to listen to the music. They sang beautifully, the songs were…songs about anarchists in Lombardy or Switzerland who’d been imprisoned or killed and something like the anarchist anthem that they sang at the beginning and again at the end.
It was all in Italian, some of it in dialect…Matthew whispered in my ear, “Have you noticed that they’re anarchists? Not exactly what anyone in Texas would expect when you say ‘Anarchist'” It is true that a very tall fellow with a lovely baritone voice was wearing a black shirt with a hand-grenade on the front, and I’m sure that a lot of people, like us, were just there to swap seeds…
But, if you’re wondering, anarchists in Lombardia are nothing like this:

Meanwhile, I finally got some seeds for Cavolo Nero (fabulous tuscan ‘black cabbage’ that makes a wonderful sub for collard greens) and a few of the oregano seeds seem to be peeking up down in the garden. We also left with a pamphlet that one of the tidy young fellows gave to Matthew. The first article inside was entitled: “You may already be an Anarchist” I think Jeff Foxworthy may have a new tag line…

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.

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