Chapter #1

The threshing

The water is never cool nor clear in the Boracifero lake, cornerstone of the small residential village of Lago Boracifero set just a few kilometers from Monterotondo Marittimo. Memories from times long gone by are likely the source of that ever-turbulent, peace-free water.

The area traditionally was where people of “ill repute” cultivated grain, with extraordinary amounts of money attached. The terrain was exceptional and the yield abundant—so abundant, in fact, that people in the area were completely arrogant and self-serving. One morning, the Feast Day of the Mother of Maria, an elderly beggar came by asking for a bit of wheat. They laughed at and mocked her, filled as they were with arrogance and greed. They cracked their whips, egging on their horses to run about almost euphorically; their voices rang out without a shred of humanity in them, the wheat stacks high and the sun shining, a stark summery contrast to the vulgar behavior happening all around. Infected by that negative energy, the elderly woman fell to the ground and amid all the inhuman indifference, she was unable to stand back up. It was only an orphan who lived in the area to deign moving anywhere near the beggar. The child extended her hand to help her and, filled with wonder, felt the woman gingerly stand up like “a sheaf of wheat.”

The beggar again turned toward those men and women, telling them they should leave work and go to the holy Mass, out of respect and devotion to the Mother of Mary. Yet they responded with scorn and she was subject to even more reprimanding from their “capoccia,” or you might say the patriarch of the group. She then asked that the little orphan be entrusted to her, so that at least she could attend Mass, which was supposed to be devoted to prayer. They granted her request, but not without scorn toward the child, who they called "a daughter of outcasts" and a "bastard", with a stern warning that she should never return.

Chapter #2

The curse

The local legend goes that the two started moving far away from that mess, horses that balked at the sounds of whips, disjointed laughter and generally sinister hoopla. They went far away on that very day of scorching sun, going back up the road and fading from local view, when the devastating clamor of thunder filled the sky, shocking everyone. It was a shock that, for those people, emerged first as fear and later as terror, because the earth opened and swallowed everything—the people, the grain, the horses and everything they owned, with smoke, dust and screeching all swirling together in the air.

Then, covering the gaping chasm that the event produced, came the water. The old lady urged the little girl not to look behind her and to continue to move uphill, praying. Divine rage was thrust toward those who had abundance in all things, but lived cloaked in attitudes of superiority, adoring money above all else and turning a blind eye toward those among them who lived in need, unobservant of old teachings.

These testimonies of times long past arrive to us today, passed down through generations, imaginative stories nonetheless carrying important morals. This is the lesson of Lago Boracifero, where the waters, still today, are never clear nor cool.

Photo by: foto F.Sartori