Autunno is the time of ripening (maturazione), and in rural Sonoma county in California, the harvest (il raccolto or la messe) is well underway. Harvest time (la stagione del raccolto) has already passed for many fruits, including our famous Gravenstein apples (mele) as well as local plums (susine), peaches (pesce), and berries (frutti di bosco).
Now is the time to fare la raccolta (get in the harvest) for other crops, such as le biondi messi (the golden corn) and l'uva (the grapes). Here in wine country, everyone keeps an eye on the weather during la vendemmia (the grape harvest). If there’s a threat of damaging rain, grape pickers (vendemmiatori) may have to work by the light of the harvest moon (luna della vendemmia or luna di Settembre) to gather grapes (cogliere l‘uva).
At a cantina, bunches of grapes (grappoli d’uva) are sorted, washed, stemmed, and crushed to prepare for la pigiatura dell’uva (the grape pressing). Then everyone waits, hoping that this will turn out to be una buona annata (a vintage year).
In Italy the novello (new) wine will be uncorked and enjoyed during the equivalent of America’s Indian summer -- l’estate di San Martino, the summer of St. Martin, whose onomastico or saint’s day falls on November 11. As a traditional saying puts it, “Per San Martino, cadono le foglie e si spilla il vino." (For St. Martin, the leaves fall, and the wine is tapped.)
But you can harvest more than grains (cereali), fruits (frutta), and vegetables (verdura) in the Italian language. The verb raccogliere can translate as pick, gather, collect, and pluck as well as reap. One can raccogliere francoboli (stamps), pere (pears), or even allori (honors). Una raccolta di libri rari refers to a collection of rare books. The person doing the collecting may be a raccoglitore (masculine) or a raccoglitrice (feminine).
As a reflexive verb, raccogliersi means to concentrate, collect one's thoughts, or pull oneself together. We could all use some moments during the day for il raccoglimento (meditation, contemplation, concentration). There is much to be said for the benefits of living raccoltamente (attentively) and being raccolto in se stesso (composed within one's self).
However, at times we need to do more, gather our strength (raccogliere le forze), and take up a challenge (raccogliere una sfida). But it never pays to stir up trouble without just cause. Remember: Chi semina vento raccoglie tempesta (who sows the wind reaps the whirlwind).
Words and Expressions
raccogliticcio -- gathering of odds and ends picked up haphazardly
chiamare a raccolta -- to rally
raccolta differenziata –- waste sorting
raccogliere il guanto –- take up the gauntlet
capelli raccolti –- tied up hair
Dianne Hales is the author of LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.
Click here to harvest a timely tune--Luca Carboni singing "Chicchi di grano."