Our good friend Giacomo Martini just arrived in his three-wheeled truck, the Ape (say ah-pay) which means “bee” in Italian—since that is how it sounds. He has started cutting the scarpate, slopes around the olive trees. Good-bye to the fading yellow wild flowers and poppies. Hello to a well manicured hillside.
Giacomo is a quiet and gentle man. It’s nice to have trusted friends you can count on to help do the things that are difficult for you, yet easy for them—what they really enjoy doing. We never have to ask him to come over to take care of the tough slopes. He always watches how everything grows and then he just shows up one day to quietly and independently do his work.
The fun comes when he is finished and we all have a chance to talk and visit awhile. One day he brought a small viper in a jar sloshing with formaldehyde for us to see. What a great conversation starter! Other days we talk about his family or the weather or sometimes he makes suggestions on how to take better care of the plants and trees. After about 15 minutes of chatter he pulls out his little spiral notebook, tucked neatly into his hip pocket. He slowly flips through, studying each page of numbers until he comes to ours. He has carefully kept track of each hour spent. After looking at the figures for a few seconds he announces the total with surety. One of us scurries off to retrieve money while the other talks on. He always insists on giving us the exact change as he knows he charges a fair price. Giacomo is a good man who is honest and trustworthy—that’s how he always shows up.