I attended my niece Evelyn’s christening a few weeks ago. I remember sitting in the church feeling excited and full of hope for her in years to come. Evelyn is a delight and her incredibly big eyes make us all want to hold her when she is with us for family occasions. We literally fight over her in our own Italian way! I was sitting in church as she was baptised, and thinking, my wish for her is that she experiences life to the absolute fullest and makes a valuable contribution to this world in her own way.
Because she is lucky. She is lucky to be born in an era of boundless opportunity. She doesn’t realise this yet – but others, who are much older than her, took risks and worked very hard to pave the way forward for future generations to prosper. A photo was sent to me after the christening, of Evelyn and I, which I love. As I look closely at this photo, I notice the pearl ring that I was wearing as its lustre stood out.
This baroque pearl ring is very special to me. When I wear it someone always stops me to comment how beautiful it is. I feel a little lost when it is not on my finger, so I put it on most days. I personally designed this ring in memory of my grandfather – Nonno Sebastiano – who passed away a few years ago. Every detail of its design was carefully thought through and the pearl was purchased in Sicily where Nonno was born.
Baroque pearls are irregular and non-spherical in shape. The most valuable ones come from the South Sea or Tahiti. Some say that baroque pearls are an ideal choice for bold women because these fascinating gems enable you to create the most gorgeous pieces of jewellery.
This ring tells a story. The thick gold on its base to hold in the carefully selected pearl resembles strength and security. As you look closely on the top of the ring you can see that the gold follows a windy and disruptive path around the pearl which is full of bumps and turns on its journey. This represents the time when my Nonno’s life was not easy and how his early years of struggle and daily pursuit enabled him to create a better life for his family. This is a true example of how one man paved the way for future generations for which I am eternally grateful.
One of my fondest memories of Nonno was the time he spent in his back yard. This back yard was full of fruit and vegetables and was his sanctuary. When Nonno arrived in Australia, the first thing that he planted in his back yard was the prickly pear. Or, as I fondly know it in Italian, as the fichi d’india. It became my favourite fruit and Nonno was the one that used to peel them for me so I could eat them.
The prickly pear is a neon-type fruit commonly eaten in Mexico and the Mediterranean region. They can be red, red-wine or yellow-orange in colour and are harvested in late summer through to early winter. Their flavour is a cross between a watermelon and pear and are extremely succulent.
Nonno made a specially designed hook to pick the fichi d’india – it had a long stick which held a tin at the end to grab the ripe fruit off the tree which he placed in a tall white bucket. The fichi d’india were very prickly and I remember Nonno being an expert at peeling the skin off with his bare hands to show the flesh. They were delicious.
Prickly pears are in season now in my home town of Melbourne and are becoming increasingly common in select green grocers where there is a cohort of Mediterranean’s living in the area. I like to eat them fresh in all its glory. I encourage you to find some now to experience and enjoy.
Who do you know that has paved the way for future generations?
Until next time.