Greetings from Mondovì: The Good Neighbor, or Everyone Knows That Guy



There is a fire burning merrily in my bedroom fireplace, a fire of fagus logs. I ordered the wood this morning and it was delivered this evening–and there is quite a story about THAT. The story has a happy ending (well, actually it’s not quite finished yet) and a hero I will not name, to avoid embarrassing him. Let me back up a bit, give you some background on my situation, and then I will tell the story.
My husband and I have a neighbor. Living as we do in a detached house, a renovated cascinetta, on 1200 mq of prato, he is the only neighbor within shouting distance, and at that one would need a very healthy set of lungs. Throughout the long months of our renovation, which caused him significant inconvenience, our neighbor remained friendly, cheerful, generous, helpful, and altogether cooperative. He is a sort of guardian angel/white knight in a pickup truck—kind, resourceful, energetic, and willing to lend a hand. He is the hero of my firewood story. One last thing to know is that my husband is presently away, working abroad. To continue . . .
Around 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon I got a call from the firewood delivery guy, saying he’d be here in half an hour. Forty minutes later he called again to say he was leaving his place with the load of wood. I said okay and reminded him “sempre a destra, sempregiu.” After a couple more calls he got here. By now it was nearly dark.

I showed him where I wanted the wood to end up in the cortile and for some reason he decided to drive down past the vegetable garden and up the other side, to enteri the courtyard from the far side. I tried to stop him but he barreled on and got himself all the way to the lowest point in the dirt road before he realized the problem: mud. We talked; I told him he had no choice but to reverse up to the turn-around and then drive up the hill again. Now it’s night, full dark. It took many tries and much swearing (I stayed out of the way, pacing in the cortile) before he got up to the turn-around, but then he couldn’t get up the hill. We talked again; he said he needed a tractor. I said our neighbor has a couple of tractors; he said, a bit sourly, that he only needed one.


Reluctantly, I called our neighbor, found him still at work. I explained the problem, he said he was on his way. When he arrived about 10 minutes later of course he and the delivery ragazzo recognized each other and began speaking Piemontese dialect. (I said to deliveryman, “you know him?”, to which he replied “everyone knows that guy.”) Long story short, the good neighbor took over. Got a rope to tow the guy’s truck. Towed the truck, helped the guy unload two pallets of wood and get turned around and on his way back to town. Helped me cover the wood with our tarp (it’s supposed to rain tonight). Said he’ll be back tomorrow to move the wood into the cortile with his tractor. The man is indispensable. And that’s how it happens that a fire of fagus logs is burning merrily in my bedroom. And why I am glad thatI know that guy, and feel especially fortunate to have him as my neighbor.


Pictures by Leslie McBride Wile

To read the other ‘Greetings from Mondovì’ click on the tag below with the same name.