28 June 2010

Our little Strenua

I'm about to embark on Colleen McCullough's seven 'Masters of Rome' books.

So it seems only apt that I introduce the concept of Roman mythology to my Blog.

In giving myself a quick internet-based history lesson, I found a list of the Roman Gods. I learned that the goddess of strength and endurance was Strenua, who is also suspected of being responsible for the Italian tradition of Befana, when on Epiphany Eve (the night of 5th January) an old woman called Befana delivers gifts to children throughout Italy. She is also known as Saint Befana, La Vecchia (the Old Woman), and La Strega (the Witch).

Now let me digress...

We purchased a trailer in Switzerland just before we moved to Italy because we needed something that would help us in our move but also something in which to cart building materials, collect firewood and gather mulch once we were here.

We chose the smallest, cheapest trailer we could find. Actually, at Swiss prices, it wasn't really cheap at all...but it was small. 1.5 metres square to be exact. We thought it was huge when we purchased it but once we saw it clinging to our car we cringed. Perhaps this initial impression was partly due to our car being rather short too (a 2-door Suzuki 4WD). In fact, looking at our car with its trailer reminded me of John Wayne with a horse. Something wrong in terms of proportion.

Over the months, we've come to respect our trailer. We got over the initial shock of discovering that we couldn't actually see it behind our car (which caused major challenges in terms of reversing). We found it was capable of everything we asked of it.

We have recently felt a compulsion to name it, mainly because people just don't seem to respect it.

And since our trailer has the loyalty of a saint, the dignity of an old woman, the magic of a witch, the strength of a god and brings gifts to us like Befana, we have named it 'Strenua'.

However, it has to be said that it has caused us acute embarrassment on several occasions.

This week, we needed 60 pavers (20kg each) and 1.5 tonne of bedding sand for the base of our new pergola.

So we attached our trailer to our car and set off for the heavy duty building materials warehouse in Canelli. When we entered the carpark, we were quickly dwarfed by the builders trucks and construction lorries that surrounded us.

We parked and fled from our vehicle before anyone could see us. In the office, a man took our order and told us to drive around the back of the warehouse to the sand storage where someone would load us up.

When our humble 'rig' appeared around the corner of the building and proceeded to the sand pile, we noticed the driver of the front end loader smother a smile.

After we had proudly manoevred into position near the sand pile, he told us that 500kg of sand couldn't be carried by such a light trailer. We were indignant as we replied that our trailer could take 800kg!

Eventually we convinced him to load it and it was our turn to smother smiles as we watched his expression morph into shock, then twist into a wry sort of amazement.

We made 3 trips for the sand and 2 trips for the tiles.

Our little Strenua has the magic of a witch, the strength of a god and brings gifts to us like Befana...

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