Walking home takes me through Point Park, over the Fort Duquesne Bridge and then through West Park. I began noticing the oak trees the rigid verticals that canopy these two urban gardens. And today I decided to collect the acorns and the caps that littered the grass under the great trees. (Compared to the oak trees – le querce – in Italy these are truly great trees. It’s a wonder what rainfall does to trees. The oak trees in Western Pennsylvania are giants compared to those in Italy.) The image is of acorns I collected from under a moderate sized tree. I gathered these and took them home. This year they are the indicators of autumn.

I began paying attention to le querce, because there have been recurring references the last couple of years to these interesting trees. It all began back in Calabria, in Conflenti when I went looking for the Santuario della Madonna della Quercia. (Never got there, but that didn’t stop learning all about the sanctuary from my uncle whose family lived in the valley. Also, my office manager had gone down to Conflenti to the Santuario and she brought back a brochure that she asked me to translate.) I had to teach myself the correct word for oak tree, all I knew was the Calabrian word I had learned growing up and phonetically it was the Italian word pronounced using French phonetic rules. (The q-sounds became French k-sounds.)

The next references came in Norcia, the city of the cinghiale – the wild boar. (We ate our way through the many shops that sold cinghiale salamis and other cured meats. In a small park, down from the main piazza, we ate paninis, stuffed with cinghiale prosciutto.) Acorns are a staple in the diet of the wild boar. We now look for wild boar options whenever we eat at a restaurant.

Most recently the word came up in the name of the house we stay at, in Le Marche. Earle-and-Suzanne’s house is sheltered by a cluster of oak trees. The soft, rolling fields surrounding the house are perimetered by oak trees, but these are half the size of the majestic oaks here in Pittsburgh.