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A young girl in ancient Rome - Part 2

Lucia woke up to birds chirping and the smell of fresh flowers. She stretched and got out of her bed, feeling refreshed and energized. She put on her tunic and sandals and went to the garden, where her father was busy tending to his bees.

“Good morning, Father,” Lucia greeted him.

“Good morning, my sweet,” her father replied, smiling. “You’re up early today.”

“I want to go to the countryside with you,” Lucia said. “I want to see your apiary and your bees.”

Her father nodded. “All right, but first, you have to eat something. Here, freshen your mouth with some honeycomb, milk, and some grapes.”

Lucia chewed a piece of honeycomb, enjoying the sweet and sticky honey. She drank milk from a wooden cup and ate grapes from a vine. She loved the taste of the fruits, and she knew they were good for her health.

She finished her breakfast and helped her father pack food for the day: bread, cheese, ham, eggs, apples, pears, and some wine diluted with water. They also brought some tools and equipment for the apiary: a smoker, a hive tool, a veil, a brush, and jars.

They left their house, taking a different route than the one they took to the market. They walked along the Via Appia, the main road that connected Rome with the south of Italy. They passed by other people heading to the countryside: farmers, shepherds, hunters, travelers, and soldiers. Lucia saw people from different regions and provinces: Campania, Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, etc. She heard them speak in different accents and dialects, some of which she could understand.

She also saw many monuments and landmarks: tombs, aqueducts, bridges, villas, and farms. She saw people honoring their ancestors and heroes, enjoying their water supply and irrigation, crossing rivers and valleys, and living in luxury and comfort; she saw people working hard and producing goods.

She learned many things from them: geography, engineering, architecture, agriculture; family traditions; local customs; about regional specialties.

She also had some fun along the way: she sang songs with other children; watched animal races; listened to stories; admired scenic views; tasted delicious foods; smelled aromatic herbs.

She felt happy in the countryside. She felt like she belonged there.

She did not want to leave. But she knew that she had to.

The sun was high in the sky when they reached their destination: a small farm near the town of Aricia. A friend of her father’s who owned it had permitted him to use some of his land for his apiary. He had also provided him with some hives and bees.

They greeted their friend, who welcomed them warmly. He showed them around his farm, where he grew wheat, barley, grapes, olives, figs, almonds, and other crops. He also had some animals: cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, and dogs. He offered them some food and drink from his produce: bread with olive oil; cheese with honey; wine with water; fruit with nuts.

They thanked him for his hospitality and generosity. They ate their food with appetite: bread dipped in honey; cheese with ham; eggs with herbs; apples with pears; wine with water; cake with cream.

They thanked the gods for their bounty: Saturn for his abundance; Ops for her fertility; Bacchus for his joy; Pomona for her fruits; Flora for her flowers.

They went to work with enthusiasm: Lucia’s father in his apiary, her friend in his farm.

Lucia followed her father to his apiary, where he kept his hives. He put on his veil to protect his face from bee stings, lit his smoker to calm the bees, used his hive tool to open the hives, inspected the frames for honey production, brushed off the bees from the edges, harvested the honeycombs from the racks, and put them in jars.

Lucia helped her father with his work. She learned how to handle the bees without harming them or being harmed by them and recognized the different types of honey by their color and flavor. She learned how to extract the honey from the honeycombs without wasting any drops.

She also enjoyed watching the bees in their natural environment. She marveled at their intelligence and organization. She observed their roles and functions: workers who collected nectar and pollen, drones who mated with the queen, and queens who laid eggs and controlled the hive. She admired their beauty and diversity: black and yellow, red and brown, blue and green.

She felt a connection with the bees. She felt like she understood them.

She did not want to leave them. But she knew that she had to.

The sun was setting over the horizon when they finished their work and packed their things. They had harvested several jars of honey from their hives. They had done an excellent job that day.

They said goodbye to their friend, who thanked them for their help. He gave them gifts from his farm: a basket of grapes, a bottle of wine, a jar of olives, and a loaf of bread.

They thanked him for his gifts and his friendship. They walked back home with their basket full of food and honey. They were tired but happy.

They had dinner with their mother, who had waited for them at home. She hugged them warmly and kissed them on their cheeks. She told them about her day at home. She asked them about their day in the countryside.

They ate their food with gratitude: Bread with honey Cheese with olives Ham with eggs Grapes with almonds Wine with water Cream with cake

They thanked the gods for their blessings: Apollo for his light; Diana for his hunt; Mercury for his trade; Ceres for her grain; Venus for her love.

They went to bed peacefully: Lucia in her room, her parents in theirs.

They slept soundly, dreaming of the next day.

To be continued…

Categories: fiction   serial   ancient rome   antiquity  

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