The groundwork for an exodus begins on a sunny springtime late Sunday afternoon when a daughter invites her mother to join her family for a ride. With the dinner dishes put away after the big meal, and the remaining crostatta back in the refrigerator, the nonna accepts. In the car, she takes her place between her bickering 12-year-old grandson and his 10-year-old sister.
Holy Thursday, twilight is descending as the nonnas leave the seventh and last church they visit. They are eager to return to their neighborhood to shop for an essential ingredient– dried grain, or wheat kernels– for the pastiera, or sweet Easter pie.
“I’m getting the dried grain,” a nonna says. “I’ll soak it and bake the pie [...]
It’s a morning at the end of August. Nonnas lucky enough to have a grape arbor lush with filled-to–bursting concord grapes pluck the bunches by the stem and deposit them in bushel baskets. Other nonnas wait at the fruit stand for workers to unload crates of oozing grapes from a wooden-sided truck. Unlucky grandsons carry the crates home.